Any single figure is bound to be an over-simplification since the effects of masks will depend on multiple factors such as type of masks, how they are worn, numbers of contacts people have, context in which you meet people (is it in stuffy indoors settings) etc. etc.
Equally, no single study (or even set of studies), however well designed, can give you the ‘right’ answer. But what we can say - and what @trishgreenhalgh has shown in detail - is that masks do make a difference and in some circumstances more than others.
What is more, masks are a simple intervention, a cheap intervention and an intervention with immediate effects. Which is why Hans Kluge, WHO regional Director has implored people to wear masks as one thing we can all do to bring infections down.
And it is the failure to do the simple obvious things now that makes more draconian restrictions necessary as a ‘last resort’.
The challenge, then, is to recognise the complexity of the data while at the same time, providing the clear practical messages that are necessary so we know what to do.
It is a delicate balance and sometimes we get it wrong.
So while the precise amount of protection afforded by masks cannot be reduced to one number
If you want to stay safe
If you want to keep others safe
If you want to see infections and deaths reduce
If you don’t want lockdown
Please wear a mask.

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More from @ReicherStephen

21 Nov
Last month, 2,669 migrants crossed the channel in boats. This, apparently, is a national crisis requiring draconian action.
Last month 4,214 people died from Covid. This, apparently, is 'living with Covid', and requires no new measures.
Surely something is wrong here? Image
And just how wrong things are:
France takes 3 times as many migrants as the UK, Germany 10 times as many.
91% of those crossing the channel come from war torn countries where human rights abuses/persecution is widespread.
98% of those coming apply for asylum, and even our...
.. notoriously mean system accepts over 60% of claims from these countries.
And of those turned down, nearly 60% win on appeal.
What is more, these refugees are an asset rather than a burden to our country, being generally healthy and productive and providing scarce skills Image
Read 6 tweets
19 Nov
Note that this ONS data - showing that 85% of people overall indicate that they have worn masks outside the house in the last 7 days - does not indicate that they have worn masks every time they went out. So let's say that, on average, these people wore masks 50% of the time...
Then, at any given point, some 40% of people would be wearing masks. In other words, there may not be as much of a discrepancy between these figures and your experience as is often assumed. More importantly,it has implications for how we use and interpret these data.
Since we don't know how often those who wear masks actually do so, the data say little about density of usage. What they do tell us, however, is the proportion of the population who are not refusing masks. And that has important implications for how to increase usage..
Read 6 tweets
19 Nov
This is a wonderful compilation from across the world about the solidarity that emerged during the pandemic.
Two key quotes from the introduction by Rebecca Solnit which encapsulate fundamental points about the relationship between governments and people in responding to Covid... Image
Solnit describes "both the ugliness of institutional authority's failure to take care of people and demonization of those people and the beauty of ordinary people's generosity, creativity, solidarity and bravery"
She also describes the joy that people found "even in the worst of circumstances, in finding the agency to act and the communion of acting together and finding a connection that can be hard to find and feel and have recognized by others in ordinary times".
Read 6 tweets
16 Nov
A real pleasure and privilege to work with @yasemin_gulsum on data from Gezi Park and the Turkish post-coup rallies, showing how crowd events can be used to create both more and less inclusive identities and hence consolidate more progressive or more reactionary politics.
On the one hand, the struggles in Gezi Park brought together previously disparate collectivities such as traditional Muslim groups and LBGT+ activists into a common and mutually respectful vision of the Turkish national community
On the other hand, post coup Erdogan used mass rallies to enact a vision of Turkishness restricted to those who actively supported him and his AKP Party - thus opening the way to repression of his critics (such as academics) as treasonous and as terrorists.
Read 4 tweets
15 Nov
The surge of Covid cases in Europe does not necessarily indicate that we will have a surge in the UK, but it does nevertheless carry some strong and clear messages about how we should be responding to our chronically high levels of infection, hospitalisations and deaths...
First, it shows that increased vaccination is a necessary part of the response, but is not sufficient on its own. Those countries currently hard hit have vaccination rates that are equivalent to or higher than that of the UK. Their problems derive from dropping other protections.
Second, it shows in particular the importance of increasing protections in schools. In many of these countries (the Netherlands in particular) the infection surge is led by the schools and derives from lack of protection in schools
Read 5 tweets
14 Nov
There is no doubt that we need more people to get vaccinated (including getting boosters). The question is whether extending vaccine passports is the best way to do it. And here is more evidence of the problems of such a strategy...
It supports previous research showing:
(a) vaccination is lowest in those who distrust authority
(b) vaccination passports further lower trust in authority
(c) the problems of vaccine passports are particularly acute when they are seen as coercive and making vaccines compulsory
So, while vaccine passports have some clear benefits:
(a) they give a reason to get vaccinated to the 'vaccine indifferent' who haven't got round to getting jabbed but aren't against it
(b) they make vulnerable people feel safer and more able to attend venues...
Read 6 tweets

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