Better Masks Key to Keeping Delta Out

Jeremy Howard Distinguished Research Scientist, University of San Francisco – Sydney Morning Herald Article

Australia is being crushed by something we’ve not seen before: exponential growth in COVID-19 cases, even with lockdowns and mask mandates. But right under our noses – quite literally – we have an un-deployed secret weapon that is cheap, easy and effective at slowing down the spread of the virus: better masks.

I recently returned to Australia from Silicon Valley. Nearly 18 months ago, I realised that wearing masks could help flatten the curve. That lightbulb moment inspired me to advocate for the universal adoption of mask-wearing. I led a scientific team that in April 2020 wrote the first and largest evidence review of masks effectiveness against the spread of COVID-19. I published an op-ed in The Washington Post and formed the #Masks4All movement that kick-started mask wearing in the US and globally. High-quality masks were not available then. So, we focused on studying cloth masks, which people could make themselves.

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