Mass Masks and Frequent Hand Cleaning to Reduce COVID Spread by Up to 90%

Wearing face masks in the community is now generally accepted as highly effective in reducing disease spread. Interventions that bring moderate benefits to individuals can have large population benefits. Seatbelt wearing is one such example. The use of masks and hand cleaning by the community can be like herd immunity after vaccination.

Physical interventions work to reduce the spread of SARS, flu and coronavirus. The effectiveness of frequent hand cleaning and mask-wearing has been studied by the British Medical Journal and frequent hand cleaning has been modeled by MIT. There have been decades of study of frequent hand cleaning by nurses and doctors to reduce disease spread. The hospital studies show the importance of more people complying with higher hygiene standards.

A British Journal of Medicine study indicates that combining frequent handwashing, masks and gowns can reduce the chance of spread by 91%.

Frequent handcleaning and masks are made more effective if a high percentage of population are following guidelines.

The MIT study had a simulation that examined how increasing the percentage of people who were handcleaning greatly reduced the spread of disease. Cleaning every 80 minutes for 70% of the people at major airports would reduce the spread of disease by 69%.

Increasing the percentage of clean hands by 10% by increasing the frequency of hand cleaning would reduce disease spread by 11-15%.

Possible compounding effects of multiple people using masks and cleaning hands.

Masks and hand cleaning have a compounding effect in that they both protect an individual from transmitting and being exposed to infection. The impact of this could be a dramatic reduction of R0. Instead of reducing the spread by 50%, the overall risk reduction within a single interaction between two people is 75% if both were following mask and handcleaning guidelines.

SOURCES- The Lancet, Risks Analysis, MIT, British Medical Journal, Github
Written by Brian Wang,