Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Face masks for the public during covid-19

Covid-19: Important potential side effects of wearing face masks that we should bear in mind

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 21 May 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2003
  1. Antonio Ivan Lazzarino, director1,
  2. Andrew Steptoe, professor of psychology and epidemiology2,
  3. Mark Hamer, professor of sport and exercise medicine2,
  4. Susan Michie, professor of health psychology2
  1. 1EPISTATA, Agency for Clinical Research and Medical Statistics, London E8 3SY, UK
  2. 2University College London, UK
  1. a.lazzarino{at}

In their editorial Greenhalgh et al advise that surgical masks should be worn in public to prevent some transmission of covid-19,1 adding that we should sometimes act without definitive evidence, just in case. Two side effects of wearing face masks in public have already been highlighted:

  • Wearing a mask may give a false sense of security and make people adopt a reduction in compliance with other important infection control measures1

  • People must avoid touching their masks and adopt …

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