The combined effectiveness of three COVID-prevention strategies on college campuses—mask-wearing, social distancing, and routine testing—are as effective in preventing COVID infections as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a new study co-authored by a Case Western Reserve University researcher.
The research, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, has immediate significance as college semesters are poised to start again—and as the distribution of approved vaccines lags behind goals.
The study found that a combination of just two common measures—distancing and mandatory masks—prevents 87 percent of campus COVID infections and costs only $170 per infection prevented.
Adding routine lab-based testing to the mix would prevent 92 to 96 percent of COVID infections. Still, the cost per infection prevented increases substantially, to $2,000 to $17,000 each, depending on test frequency.