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Little Evidence Supports Use of Cloth Masks to Limit Spread of Coronavirus: Analysis

BY ZACHARY STIEBER November 15, 2021 Updated: November 15, 2021 Federal health authorities and a slew of jurisdictions require or recommend wearing masks as a way to limit spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
But a trio of researchers pored over the studies often cited by the officials and found they were poorly designed and offered scant evidence supporting mask usage.
Many of the studies are observational, opening them up to confounding variables, the researchers said in their analysis (pdf), which was published on Nov. 8 by the Cato Institute.
Of 16 randomized controlled trials comparing mask effectiveness to controls with no masks, 14 failed to find a statistically significant benefit, the researchers said. And of 16 quantitative meta-analyses, half showed weak evidence of mask effectiveness while the others “were equivocal or critical as to whether evidence supports a public recommendation of masks,” they added.