Throughout the pandemic, people have debated whether or not masks actually limit COVID-19 transmissibility–how easily the virus moves from one person to another. Views on masks fall directly on party lines, with Republicans often arguing they don’t work and Democrats saying they do.
The good thing is that scientists–not Republicans or Democrats–know the answer. Masks do work!
Here are eight individual scientific studies showing that masks do protect against COVID-19:
- “Ability of fabric face mask materials to filter ultrafine particles at coughing velocity.” This study reveals that a variety of materials used to make non-surgical masks provide some protection against transmitting or contracting COVID-19. These masks filtered up to 45% of particles that moved through them, which is high for normal materials.
- “Effectiveness of Face Masks in Preventing Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2.” This study, published in the National Library of Medicine, found that most types of masks protect against COVID-19 at some level. Medical masks like N95s showed the best protection but not 100%.
- “Performance of fabrics for home-made masks against the spread of COVID-19 through droplets: A quantitative mechanistic study.” This study highlights similar results to the first two studies, but adds that two layers of mask material can increase protection against COVID-19 to about 70%. That’s similar to protection rates for medical masks.
- “Viral Filtration Efficiency of Fabric Masks Compared with Surgical and N95 Masks.” This study used masks purchased from Etsy to show how they offer strong protection against COVID-19. So no, your artsy masks from Etsy aren’t just for show, and work well.
- “Face coverings and respiratory tract droplet dispersion.” This study revealed masks create consistent protection from COVID-19 and can allow social distancing rules to be lowered.
- “Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks.” This study also found masks protect against COVID-19. See any trends yet?
- “Efficacy of face mask in preventing respiratory virus transmission: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” This study says masks “serve as an adjunctive method regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.”
- “Trends in County-Level COVID-19 Incidence in Counties With and Without a Mask Mandate.” This study shows lower COVID-19 transmission in counties with a mask mandate.
Convinced yet? Even if you don’t understand any of these studies, the sophistication of their names show that these scientists know what they’re talking about. Anyone talking about “coughing velocity” or “tract droplet dispersion” is probably more knowledgeable than your Joe Rogan-loving uncle.