During the plague, we learned that face masks were Highly efficient tools To reduce the transmission of COVID-19 as it facilitates the diffusion of airway aerosols, which is the primary means of infection.
Although we are not yet able to reach herd immunity. But scientists are already thinking ahead of how useful a face mask will be after the pandemic.HuffPost spoke to experts who explain how and when masking might be appropriate, even if the threat of COVID-19 has subsided.
During the flu season if you are sick
The right masking practice goes beyond the coronavirus: last year we saw the least number of people with influenza in recorded history.
Like COVID-19, influenza is a respiratory virus that is spread by inhalation of infected droplets. Several coronavirus health guidelines also apply to influenza, such as washing your hands at home if you feel unwell and wearing a mask if you can’t safely stay away from other people in the home.
“It is always good to keep your mouth shut in terms of protecting people from respiratory disease: if you are an infected person, you are less likely to infect others.” Bernard CumminsMedical director of infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System
Camins noted that our pre-epidemic standards Our “cover up cough” may not have gone far enough. On the other hand, future advice should include telling people to stay home if they are sick and wearing a mask if they have symptoms and unable to stay home.
When you need protection in a crowded indoor area
We have learned that close contact with others in poorly ventilated areas is the fastest way to spread the virus.Even after COVID-19, we are at risk of respiratory infections from the common cold to the common cold. – whenever we find ourselves in a crowded indoor area
Fred Pelzman, general practitioner and associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, said it might just make sense.
“When you’re with a lot of people you don’t know in a non-circulating, air-conditioned situation, I think the mask will continue to be important,” Pelzman told HuffPost, naming crowded cinemas, halls, schools, sports stadiums. Indoor And public transport is an example of a gap where distances can be difficult.
As technology improves and we learn more, we may see improvements to indoor ventilation and protective measures that may make indoor spaces safer overall. Schools, sports arenas, bars and restaurants are now using temperature checks and / or rapid tests to screen people who want to get inside. Both methods have a limit of accuracy. But over time, we’ll see modifications leading to better performance, Pelzman said.
When there is a new form of COVID-19 or when your immunity is low
COVID-19 is likely not going to go away entirely. Even if we have herd immunity – which makes us well protected from viruses. But continues to exist in the population And just like the flu, it will continue to mutate, with new strains emerging.
Data show that the vaccine provides a strong immune system for at least six months. But it’s not clear how long the protection will be after that. Scientists are working with Pfizer and Moderna. Find the boosterAnd they say we need them within 12 months of getting the first vaccination.
“Because there are still examples of ‘Vaccine development’ – where vaccinated people contract the virus – and due to vaccine hesitation, there are still vulnerable people, the virus could spread and develop with new strains, ”Camins said.
In the face of these unknown risks, universal masking can help prevent us from spreading viruses when new strains emerge until we get our support.
During travel or when around populations at risk
Current vaccination rates and cases of COVID-19 infection differ greatly between regions of the United States and InternationalUntil we reach global herd immunity – a period of time that remains a lot of question marks – we may expose vulnerable populations that have not yet been vaccinated when we travel from low to high-risk areas. Wearing a mask on planes or other forms of transport, including in public areas, if we are in a population at risk, can help keep everyone safe.
It is important that health workers continue to “monitor and monitor the community for the prevalence of the virus,” Pelzman said. And before traveling, find the COVID positive rate and vaccination percentage for your destination.
The coronavirus is not the first new virus outbreak, and it may not be the last. But we know that wearing masks when we can’t safely stay away from others can help prevent us from contracting and spreading infection. Continuing to keep the habit under certain circumstances can help manage the risk of widespread illness.