An important task in combating the current Covid-19 pandemic lies in estimating the effect of different preventive measures. Here, we focus on the preventive effect of enforcing the use of face masks. Several publications study this effect, however, often using different measures such as: the relative attack rate in case-control studies, the effect on incidence growth/decline in a specific time frame and the effect on the number of infected in a given time frame. These measures all depend on community-specific features and are hence not easily transferred to other community settings. We argue that a more universal measure is the relative reduction in the reproduction number, which we call the face mask effectEFM. It is shown how to convert the other measures to EFM. We also apply the methodology to four empirical studies using different effect-measures. When converted to estimates of EFM, all estimates lie between 15 and 40%, suggesting that mandatory face masks reduce the reproduction number by an amount in this range, when compared with no individuals wearing face masks.

Fuente: Proceedings of The Royal Society A