Study: Face masks are inexpensive but at least they do not work

The effectiveness of eight nonpharmaceutical interventions against COVID-19 in 41 countries. Science, Feb 19, 2021.

Jan M. Brauner MD@,∗,1,2, Sören Mindermann∗,1, Mrinank Sharma∗,3, David Johnston4,5,John Salvatier5, Tomáš Gavenˇciak PhD6, Anna B. Stephenson7, Gavin Leech8, GeorgeAltman MBChB9, Vladimir Mikulik6, Alexander John Norman10, Joshua TeperowskiMonrad2, Tamay Besiroglu11, Hong Ge PhD12, Meghan A. Hartwick PhD13, Prof Yee WhyeTeh PhD14, Prof Leonid Chindelevitch PhD+,15, Prof Yarin Gal PhD+,1, Jan Kulveit PhD+,2

Mandating mask-wearing in various public spaces had no clear effect, on average, in the countries we studied. This does not rule out mask-wearing mandates having a larger effect in other contexts. In our data, mask-wearing was only mandated when other NPIs had already reduced public interactions. When most transmission occurs in private spaces,wearing masks in public is expected to be less effective. This might explain why a larger effect was found in studies that included China and South Korea, where mask-wearing was introduced earlier8,23. While there is an emerging body of literature indicating that mask-wearing can be effective in reducing transmission, the bulk of evidence comes from healthcare settings24. In non-healthcare settings, risk compensation25may play a large rrole, potentially reducing effectiveness. While our results cast doubt on reports that mask-wearing is the main determinant shaping a country’s epidemic23, the policy still seems promising given all available evidence, due to its comparatively low economic and social costs. Its effectiveness may have increased as other NPIs have been lifted and public inter-actions have recommenced

That last section is striving to show that may be, perhaps, kinda, if you squint just right, we might be able to torture some data and find some benefit, somewhere, some how. May be.

That explains this:

Another review study from January 2021 with similar findings.

Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis. Baruch Vainshelboim. Med Hypothesis. January 2021.

Update: To drive home the point, here is a public health expert in June of 2020 masks are 50-85% effective:

We have found a disease control tool that, when used properly, can dramatically reduce the person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Studies have shown that this tool could reduce transmission by somewhere between 50% and 85%. The tool is cheap and remarkably low-tech. You can even make one at home. It has no significant side effects. And with each passing day, the scientific research showing the tool’s effectiveness gets stronger and stronger.

I’m talking, of course, about face masks—cloth, surgical, or even a bandanna. Face masks block the spread of respiratory droplets that can carry the novel coronavirus.

On January 20, 2021, Germany banned cloth face masks and mandated use of FP2s (a European equivalent of N95s) exclusively. How did that work out? Today, March 22, 2021, Germany has announced it is going back into lock down. And many want that to continue through April.

Original source for this info.