Cochrane Institute, which is considered the gold standard of evidence based reviews, examined 78 global studies with over 1 million people and concluded that masks made 'little to no difference' to COVID-19 infection or death rates.
Results of one of the most comprehensive meta-analyses of face coverings indicated that surgical masks reduced the risk of becoming infected with 'COVID-19 or a flu-like illness' by only five percent. That figure may be too low to be statistically significant.
The researchers pointed out that because the harm caused by masks, such as hampering the education of students, were not measured well, the benefits masks had on infection rates might be outnumbered.
Professor Francois Balloux of computational biology at University College London said that the analysis showed the benefit of wearing a mask was is 'at best small'.