Do Face Masks Reduce COVID-19 Spread in Bangladesh? Are the Abaluck et al. Results Reliable?

Do Face Masks Reduce COVID-19 Spread in Bangladesh? Are the Abaluck et al. Results Reliable?

Note that views expressed in this opinion article are the writer’s personal views and not necessarily those of TrialSite.

Denis G. Rancourt, PhD


“This really should be the end of the debate,” says Ashley Styczynski, an infectious-disease researcher at Stanford University in California and a co-author of the preprint describing the trial. The research “takes things a step further in terms of scientific rigour”, says Deepak Bhatt, a medical researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who has published research on masking. — Nature | News | 09 September 2021 | “Face masks for COVID pass their largest test yet”

The leading trend-setting mainstream media and institutional public relations offices have been unreservedly enthusiastic about “the Bangladesh mask study” (see Appendix A). 

Here, I review the methods and results of that study by Abaluck et al. (2021) published as a working paper by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA): “The Impact of Community Masking on COVID-19: A Cluster-Randomized Trial in Bangladesh”, 01 September 2021.

The study’s stated primary outcome regarding the benefits of face masks is “symptomatic SARS‑CoV‑2 sero...

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