Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently told Business Insider that “a combination of an effective vaccine and adherence to certain public health principles will get us to the point where we want to be, by the end of 2021.”

“I never said just the vaccine,” he continued. “You never should abandon the public health measures. And the intensity of the public health measures would depend on the level of infection in the community.” If there’s little to no spread of COVID-19 in any given community, then, Fauci says, “together with the vaccine, you might want to be able to say, ‘I can safely congregate with people.’ You may want to do it with a mask, or without a mask.”

Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in June also found that regions in the world where people more commonly used face masks had milder COVID-19 epidemics. The authors specifically cited Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand, among other countries, as having good mask usage and lower rates.