Americans have been receiving contradictory information about the coronavirus pandemic, so much so that it’s become a joke. One example is face masks: In March, the World Health Organization advised people to not wear masks if they aren’t sick or caretakers of the sick.
But given that some coronavirus patients are asymptomatic, opinions of masks from top officials have shifted. The CDC and the media now advise you to wear a damn mask. And a new study may provide more evidence that masks can help beat the outbreak.
According to this study, if 80 percent of Americans wore masks, coronavirus infections would plummet, Vanity Fair reports. The title of the study makes the researchers’ view clear: Universal Masking is Urgent in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“I felt like this was pretty urgent,” De Kai, an American computer scientist and chief architect of the study, told Vanity Fair. De Kai was born in the United States to Chinese immigrants. “I saw the country where I grew up, where my family lives [now mostly in the Bay Area], about to face this pandemic without knowing much about something as simple as wearing a mask to protect themselves and others.”
Unlike in the U.S., masks are worn in everyday life in East Asia to fend off pollution and other germs. Using complex models used by epidemiologists to track previous outbreaks (like Ebola and SARS), as well as artificial intelligence, De Kai and his team were able to model how the virus would play out should Americans don masks en masse.
With no mask, the researchers saw a high level of infections in their model. If 100 percent of Americans wore masks, the model showed that the infection rate dropped down to nothing. The goal, however, is 80 to 90 percent of people to wear masks. Otherwise, it won’t be effective.
“If you get down to 30 or 40%, you get almost no [beneficial] effect at all,” De Kai told Vanity Fair.
So in case Fauci and previous studies and everyone on social media yelling at you to wear a mask didn’t you convince you, let this.