A new study in The Lancet provides evidence on the optimum use of simple interventions to help flatten the epidemic curve. Part-funded by WHO and conducted by researchers from all over the world, the paper pooled 44 comparative studies (7 on COVID-19, 26 in SARS and 11 on MERS) that involved 25,697 participants and performed a meta-analysis understanding how effective was social distancing, wearing eye protection, and wearing a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
According to the study, current policies of at least 1 m of physical distance are associated with a large reduction in infection, and distances of 2 m may be more effective. “These data also indicate that the use of face masks protects people (both health workers and the general public) from infection by these coronaviruses, and eye protection could provide an additional benefit. However, none of these interventions provided complete protection against infection, and their optimal role may require risk assessment and several contextual consideration.”
Nine studies that compared the effects of social distancing found that 3 percent of people were infected with the Coronavirus if they maintained a distance of more than 1m, compared to 13 percent if the distance maintained was less than 1m.
Thirteen studies that examined the effect of wearing an eye-protective device found that the risk of infection was 6% among those who used eye protection equipment, compared to 16% among those who did not.
Ten studies that examined the efficacy of wearing a face mask showed that if you wore a mask, the risk of catching the infection was 3%, compared to 17% if you did not wear it.
Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Director of Pulmocare Research and Education Foundation in Pune, told the Indian Express that the end of the lockdown is not the end of the pandemic, but rather the beginning of a long drawn-up battle against the virus, where social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing eye protection and wearing a mask are the best options available to reduce the spread.
Among these, wearing a mask seems to be the most beneficial intervention. A cloth mask made of the cotton quilt, or a hybrid mask made up of cotton and chiffon, or cotton and silk offer good quality protection, he added.
Also Read: YES Bank's FD is providing free health insurance for coronavirus: Should you invest?