Bangladesh Overview

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In this Image Face mask distribution conducted as part of an IPA study of the impact of mask distribution and promotion on mask uptake and COVID-19 in Bangladesh. © 2021 IPA Bangladesh

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Research Findings

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The Impact of Mask Distribution and Promotion on Mask Uptake and COVID-19 in Bangladesh

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A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that face masks can protect against COVID-19. There is, however, limited rigorous evidence on the extent to which mask-wearing is effective in reducing COVID-19 in a real-life situation with imperfect and inconsistent mask use. In Bangladesh, researchers and IPA partnered with Bangladeshi policymakers and a local NGO to design and evaluate various strategies to increase mask-wearing and assess the impact of community mask-wearing on SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.They found that a four-part intervention (the “NORM model”) tripled mask usage (a 29- percentage-point increase), and increased physical distancing by 5 percentage points.

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Further, this increase in mask-wearing reduced symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. When surgical masks were employed, 1 in 3 symptomatic infections were avoided for individuals 60+ years old, the age group that faces the highest risk of death following infection. This was the first large-scale randomized evaluation to demonstrate the effectiveness of masks in a real-world setting.

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