Researchers show what 80% of Americans could do to potentially squash COVID-19 infections

Experts say that instead of a continued lockdown scenario, there's another tool to significantly change the rate of infections and help avoid a second wave.


Experts are showing a simple, yet highly effective way to significantly reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

They say in a new study that instead of a continued lockdown scenario, having people wear masks as soon as possible could have significant effects.

But it requires that the vast majority of people wear them — coupled with physical distancing measures. If only half of a population does so, there's only minimal impact, researchers said in the study.

"Without masking, but even with continued social distancing in place once the lockdown is lifted, the infection rate will increase and almost half of the population will become affected," the researchers said. "This scenario would potentially lead to over a million deaths in a population the size of the U.K."

"Without masking, lifting lockdown after nine weeks while keeping social distancing measures will risk a major second wave of the epidemic in 4-5 months’ time," they added." However, if four out of five citizens start wearing cloth masks in public before the lockdown is lifted, the number of new COVID-19 cases could decline enough to exit lockdown and still avoid a second wave of the epidemic."

Video: Doctor explains guidance for face masks in public, answers other questions

They used a computer model to try to explain how countries such as Japan, which generally wear masks, have been having drastically different outcomes than others that generally don't wear masks, Vanity Fair noted.

Taiwan, for example, has a population of 23 million, but Johns Hopkins University's tally shows only 440 cases and seven deaths.

The study has yet to complete the peer-review process, but experts who have seen it spoke highly of it to Vanity Fair.

An alternative, such as a continued lockdown, does help, but it would take six months for the virus to be under control, the researchers said, describing the economic and social costs of that strategy as enormous.

The research team urged governments to consider masking as one of the key tools in controlling the spread of the virus.