By Adam Taylor and Ben Guarino

The authors of a study based on an enormous randomized research project in Bangladesh say their results offer the best evidence yet that widespread wearing of surgical masks can limit the spread of the coronavirus in communities.

The preprint paper, which tracked more than 340,000 adults across 600 villages in rural Bangladesh, is by far the largest randomized study on the effectiveness of masks at limiting the spread of coronavirus infections.

Its authors say this provides conclusive, real-world evidence for what laboratory work and other research already strongly suggest: mask-wearing can have a significant impact on limiting the spread of symptomatic covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“I think this should basically end any scientific debate about whether masks can be effective in combating covid at the populationlevel,” Jason Abaluck, an economist at Yale who helped lead the study, said in an interview, calling it “a nail in the coffin” of the arguments against masks.

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