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Face Masks Work – Act Now

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Cloth face masks, even homemade ones made of the correct material, are effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19 - for the wearer and those around them - according to a new study from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science.

Professor Melinda Mills, Director of the Leverhulme Centre and author of the study, says: “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.”

Fit matters

Around the world, the study finds, next to hand washing and social distancing, face masks and coverings are one of the most widely adopted non-pharmaceutical interventions for reducing the transmission of respiratory infections.

But, the study shows, some coverings are not as effective as others. Loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, have been shown to be the least effective. Professor Mills says that attention must also be paid to how well it fits; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage.

Other findings

· Cloth face coverings are effective in protecting the wearer and those around them.

· Behavioral factors are involved, including how people understand the virus and their perceptions of risk, trust in experts and government, can adversely affect mask wearing.

· Face masks need to be seen as part of ‘policy packages’ with other measures such as social distancing and hand hygiene.

· Clear and consistent policies and public messaging are key to the adoption of wearing face masks and coverings by the general public.

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