(KGTV) — A recent study led by researchers at Stanford Medicine and Yale University found that wearing a surgical mask is an effective way to reduce COVID-19 cases in community settings.
The study enrolled nearly 350,000 people from 600 villages in rural Bangladesh during the eight-week study. Those living in villages that were randomly assigned to a series of interventions promoting the use of surgical masks were about 11% less likely than those living in control villages to develop COVID-19, the study found.
That protective effect increased to nearly 35% for people over 60 years old, according to the data.
Ashley Styczynski, infectious disease fellow at Stanford University and a principal investigator on the study, said the results offer a glimpse of just how much masks matter.
"So overall we felt that this demonstrated that masks are highly effective in reducing COVID-19, and that if we were able to achieve even more uptake than the 29% point increase we saw, we would have probably been able to measure a greater effect," said Styczynski.
Hear ABC 10News' full interview with Ashley Styczynski on the study:
The study also proves that surgical masks are likely more effective than cloth against the virus, Styczynski said.
"You should use the most effective mask that's available to you to get the best protection. So if you have access to a surgical mask. That's great, it's probably going to protect you. Better than a cloth mask," said Styczynski.
This study was done when the alpha variant was most dominant and prior to the rapid increase in delta variant COVID-19 cases.