Face masks considerably reduce COVID-19 cases in Germany

Timo Mitze, Reinhold Kosfeld, Johannes Rode, Klaus Wälde

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Abstract

Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is the objective of most governments. It is of utmost importance to understand how effective various public health measures are. We study the effectiveness of face masks. We employ public regional data about reported severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections for Germany. As face masks became mandatory at different points in time across German regions, we can compare the rise in infections in regions with masks and regions without masks. Weighing various estimates, we conclude that 20 d after becoming mandatory face masks have reduced the number of new infections by around 45 masks seem to be a cost-effective means to combat COVID-19.We use the synthetic control method to analyze the effect of face masks on the spread of COVID-19 in Germany. Our identification approach exploits regional variation in the point in time when wearing of face masks became mandatory in public transport and shops. Depending on the region we consider, we find that face masks reduced the number of newly registered severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections between 1550 days after their mandatory introduction. Assessing the credibility of the various estimates, we conclude that face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 47https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13065920). All study data are included in the paper and SI Appendix.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume117
Issue number51
Pages (from-to)32293-32301
ISSN0027-8424
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22. Dec 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Face masks
  • Public health measures
  • Synthetic control method

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