Mask, the saviour

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 10/14/2020 10:11:11 AM

NEW DELHI, Oct 13: The Health Ministry's repeated appeal for the universal use of masks whenever venturing out can save 1.27 lakh lives in India by reducing by a third the Coronavirus deaths in the country up to the next February, according to a research published by the University of Washington.
Its researchers have predicted that these deaths would reduce from their projection of 3.49 lakh by February 1 to 2.22 lakh, if the use of the masks increased to 95% from the current estimate of 70%. India's present death toll is 1,09,856. These calculations are part of the broader effort of the researchers to forecast the Covid-19 pandemic's trajectories worldwide under the universal use of masks that they say can reduce infections for the mask wearers by at least one-third.
"Masks are a low-cost intervention available and accessible to all people regardless of socio-economic status," says Prof. EmmanuelaGakidou who led the study of the University of Washington. She and her colleagues have posted their study, not yet peer-reviewed, on medRxiv, an online archive of preprints. Their analysis available online as an interactive tool also predicts the state-specific reduction of deaths in India through the universal use of the mask.
Their current model analysis has predicted Delhi's Covid-19 death count to cross 13,000 by February under the default mask use of around 67%, but drop to 10,000 under the universal mask use. Maharashtra's count would fall from 83,000 to 68,000. It has so far recorded cumulative deaths of 40,349 till October 12.
Although India has recorded a steady decline in daily new Covid-19 cases for the past over one month from 97,894 on September 11 to 55,342 on October 13, the public health experts are apprehensive about a surge in the infections.
The University of Washington model has forecast a large increase in infections and deaths in many countries due to the seasonal disease transmission patterns and declining use of masks besides increasing people-to-people contacts.
Using the social media platforms on the observed use of mask across the world, the researchers say the average mask use in India is nearly 70% which may result in 3.49 lakh deaths by February 1, but it will fall by a 36% to 2.22 lakh if 95% wear the masks.



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