Universal masking in the U.S. could save some 130,000 lives by the end of February, according to projections by some of the nation’s top Covid-19 trackers at the University of Washington.
Theanalysis, which appeared Friday in the journal Nature Medicine, models the impact of different levels of social distancing on the trajectory of the pandemic from this fall to the end of February 2021. White House officials and public health leaders said they don’t expect a vaccine to be widely available until March or April, which means wearing masks and other non-pharmaceutical measures will likely be the only option to reduce the spread of the virus until the end of February.
“We show that expanding mask use can be one of the easy wins for the United States,” Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, said in a Friday press briefing. “It can both delay the re-imposition of social distancing mandates and can safe many lives.”
IHME researchers analyzed how the virus spread across states from the first recorded case in the U.S. to Sept. 21. They then used those data to project how adherence to mask use and other variables, such as seasonal pneumonia and testing rates, would impact virus spread from Sept. 22, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021.
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