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Wearing a global mask in public could significantly reduce the number of Americans dying of COVID-19 by February, a study published Friday in the journal Nature Medicine Projects.
Researchers at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Make estimates based on some assumptions under various scenarios.
In what they described as the worst-case scenario, they expect COVID-19 deaths to exceed 1 million between September 2020 and February 2021 if what they call the “current pattern of easing” restrictions continues in the states.
In the second scenario that they think is more likely, they say 511,000 could die between September and February assuming that “countries will once again shut down social interaction and some economic activity” for six weeks once deaths reach a certain threshold per million residents.
But in a third scenario where 95% of the population faces intermarriage and established social restrictions, deaths are projected to be around 381,000 – or about 130,000 less than in the second scenario.
And they say if that mask ratio changes to 85% of Americans subject to restrictions, it could still save about 96,000 lives.
The study analyzed deaths and previous cases of COVID-19 between February 1 and September 21, and researchers also pulled information from various surveys – including those conducted by Facebook and YouGov – to estimate that as of September 21, only 49% of Americans reported always wearing a mask.
The study also assumed a 40% reduction in the risk of COVID transmission due to mask use. Previous studies have estimated that masks can reduce transmission by at least 30%.
The researchers also note that changes in policy and behavior can affect outcomes and that epidemics are evolving in a way that is “difficult to monitor directly and at scale.”
“It is unreasonable to expect any model to do everything well, so each model makes concessions to serve a purpose, while maintaining mathematical traceability,” the researchers write.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 224,000 Americans They died from the Coronavirus.