Policymakers, researchers divided over use of masks

Staff Correspondent

10 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Researchers, economists and policymakers have expressed different opinions over the effectiveness of masks and vaccines in keeping spread of coronavirus in control.

At a virtual discussion on Wednesday, researchers and economists said there is no alternative to wearing masks to curb corona infections and suggested establishing mask wearing as a social norm through campaigns.

Policymakers, on the other hand, did not agree with it and said vaccination is the top priority for the government now instead of campaigning for masks as people have apathy in wearing masks.

In addition, they also see the investment on increasing masks wearing habit will be wastage of money. 

The observations came at critical conversations 2021 of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) on ‘Normalizing Masks: Health and Economic Implications.’

Presenting a study results, Prof at Yale University, USA, Mushfiq Mobarak showed that lockdowns are extremely costly which has been estimated at 10 percent of GDP. But the benefits of wearing mask campaign is 10 times higher than the cost of lockdowns. 

Referring to a survey on 1.30 lakh households, Prof Mobarak said the mask wearing publicity can help increase mask wearing habit by 29 percent, which becomes sustainable for 10 weeks.

He suggested taking assistance of local representatives, mosque imams and publicity for distributing masks at free of cost.

BRAC Executive Director Asif Saleh said: “Lockdowns are being imposed to stop spread of coronavirus, but the move is not effective and it is very costly.