Oxford study finds face masks and coverings work

Face masks are effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19, according to a new study by the University of Oxford.

The study, published by Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, found that cloth face coverings, even homemade masks made with the correct material, are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 for the wearer and those around them.

The evidence is clear that people should wear masks to reduce virus transmission and protect themselves, with most countries recommending the public to wear them. Yet clear policy recommendations that the public should broadly wear them has been unclear and inconsistent in some countries such as England.

Professor Melinda Mills, Director of the Leverhulme Centre

However the study found that some coverings are not as effective as others.

Loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves have been shown to be the least effective.

Professor Melinda Mills says: “We find that masks made from high quality material such as high-grade cotton, multiple layers and particularly hybrid constructions are effective. For instance, combining cotton and silk or flannel provide over 95% filtration, so wearing a mask can protect others.”

As of late April, mask-wearing was up to 84% in Italy, 66% in the US and 64% in Spain, which increased almost immediately after clear advice was given to the public.

Figures suggest wearing a face mask in the UK has had a very low uptake of around 25% as of late April 2020.

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