The Impact of Community Masking on COVID-19: A Cluster-Randomized Trial in Bangladesh

There were 178,288 individuals in the intervention group and 163,838 individuals in the control group. The intervention increased proper mask-wearing from 13.3% in control villages (N=806,547 observations) to 42.3% in treatment villages (N=797,715 observations) (adjusted percentage point difference = 0.29 [0.27, 0.31]). This tripling of mask usage was sus- tained during the intervention period and two weeks after. Physical distancing increased from 24.1% in control villages to 29.2% in treatment villages (adjusted percentage point difference = 0.05 [0.04, 0.06]). After 5 months, the impact of the intervention faded, but mask-wearing remained 10 percentage points higher in the intervention group. The proportion of individuals with COVID-like symptoms was 7.62% (N=13,273) in the intervention arm and 8.62% (N=13,893) in the control arm. Blood samples were collected from N=10,952 consenting, symptomatic individuals. In villages random- ized to surgical masks (n = 200), the relative reduction was 11.2% overall (aPR = 0.89 [0.78, 1.00]) and 34.7% among individuals 60+ (aPR = 0.65 [0.46, 0.85]). No adverse events were reported.