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One of the most politicised scientific issues of 2020 was the question about whether face-masks stop the spread of COVID-19. I trust we can agree that this is notable without requiring specific examples.

In particular:

When worn by health care workers (e.g. in the context of hospitals) who are infected, are N95 respirators effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

Note that this question is about effectiveness (not efficacy), so answerers and voters are invited to weight evidence about the spread of COVID-19 in real-life conditions above evidence from lab experiments, and in turn, evidence from lab-experiments above theoretical models.

This question is one of a number of similar questions on Skeptics.SE. For a master list, see here

  • I guess this could (in theory) be answered with some data from those desperate zones where infected healthcare workers were forced to work nonetheless, but I suspect there might not be a published study on this... (Also how likely is for "antis" to claim something this specific... as to make this a suitable q here on Skeptics...) – Fizz Jan 1 at 16:27
  • @Fizz: I remember it as the key talking point for why the limited supply of N95 respirators should be reserved for HCW around Feb Mar 2020. I actually think this is going to be the area where the most studies are available. – Oddthinking Jan 2 at 8:00
  • Yes, but it was so the HCWs don't get infected. In fact every single study on HCWs wearing masks I know of has that as a measure, i.e. how many of them got infected during the study. You're basically asking here what happens with HCWs after they got infected, e.g. did they spread the disease to someone else. That's almost never studied. – Fizz Jan 2 at 9:39
  • @Fizz: Hmmm... yes. Tricky. It is again the drunk-looking-for-their-keys-under-the-streetlight question: Do we ask about the more common claim or do we ask about where the most data is? Should we ask another question? – Oddthinking Jan 4 at 19:44

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