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Wearing a face mask doesn’t prevent Covid infection

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Wearing a face mask doesn’t offer much protection against the Covid-19 virus, despite what our health guardians tell us.

There isn’t much difference in infection rate between mask wearers and the unmasked, say researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. In fact, there’s even a possibility that wearing a mask increases the risk of infection.

The researchers tested the effects of mask wearing among a group of 4862 volunteers. Half were asked to wear a mask for up to a month whenever they left their home, and the rest didn’t wear one

other than in locations where they were legally required to do so. All were encouraged to follow standard social distancing rules.

At the end of the 30-day study, 42 participants who had worn a mask had tested positive for corona infection, and 53 in the non-mask group had also become infected. This equated to a 0.3 percent difference between the two groups, which was not ‘statistically significant’, the researchers said.

Because the volunteers were relied on to report on their mask-wearing and their diagnosis, there’s the possibility that a mask could reduce the risk of infection by as much as 43 percent, but similarly increase the chances of infection by 23 percent.

Overall, it’s reasonable to conclude that masks offer little, if any, protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, they say.

(Sources: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2020; doi: 10.7326/M20-6817)

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