Study Shows Masks Can Prevent COVID-19 (Medicine)

Mayo Clinic researchers recently published a study that shows the proper use of masks reduces the spread of respiratory droplets. The findings strongly support the protective value and effectiveness of widespread mask use and maintaining physical distance in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Reporter Jason Howland has more in this Mayo Clinic Minute.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (0:59) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: “Mayo Clinic News Network.” Read the script.

Do face masks work at preventing COVID-19 transmission?

“Masks don’t work unless we wear them,” says Dr. Elie Berbari, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician.

That’s what Mayo Clinic researchers say they proved in a recent study.

“We found objectively that masks are critically important. They’re very effective at protecting the people around you. If you’re wearing a mask, you’re protecting others. If they’re wearing masks, they’re protecting you,” says Dr. Matthew Callstrom, a Mayo Clinic radiologist and one of the study’s authors.

The experiments used masked and unmasked mannequins that simulated the spread of respiratory droplets and measured it at various distances.

“The most important transmission of a COVID-19 particle is a respiratory droplet. We measured the aerosol particles which are even smaller. And we found that masking was very effective even for those particles, the smallest ones,” says Dr. Callstrom.

The study showed that disposable paper medical masks and two-layer cloth masks reduced droplet transmission.

“We’re all tired of wearing masks. But I think this is really highlighting the importance of it,” says Dr. Berbari.

Featured image credit: Getty Images

Reference: Jonathan R. Tomshine, Kendall D. Dennis, Russell E. Bruhnke, James H. Christensen, Tom G. Halvorsen, Christopher J. Hogan, John C. O’Horo, Laura E. Breeher, Matthew R. Callstrom, Mark B. Wehde, Combined Effects of Masking and Distance on Aerosol Exposure Potential, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 96, Issue 7, 2021, Pages 1792-1800, ISSN 0025-6196, (

Provided by Mayo Clinic

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