There seems to be a new variant of COVID-19 among us and it is rapidly spreading around the world. But is it time to “wear a mask” again? And were the masks really effective from the beginning?
The new strain of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is called EG.5, or “Eris.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this to be a notable variant, which means it is being closely monitored. Eris, a subspecies of subspecies Omicron, is now the most common in the United States, accounting for 17 percent of all cases. As of August 8, it has also been detected in more than 50 countries.
In 2020-2021, when the world was hit by a pandemic, masks were widely adopted as a means of preventing the spread of infection. And in many public places they were mandatory.
The choice to wear it is now voluntary, but as Eris continues to spread rapidly, scientists are refocusing on how effective Eris is in preventing highly infectious diseases. .
“yes they do [work]. There’s a lot of evidence that they exist, from clinical studies to population studies to laboratory studies,” says Reyna M., an epidemiologist and professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales Kirby Institute in Australia. Mr McIntyre said. Newsweek.
“But what we call masks can vary from cloth masks to surgical masks to N95 masks. Cloth masks offer minimal protection, but N95 are the most effective. Even so, it is better than doing nothing against SARS-CoV-2, as shown in a large US study.”
A 2022 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that from February to December 2021, using a face mask or respirator indoors in public places could catch COVID-19. found to decrease.
Cloth masks were associated with a 56 percent lower risk, and surgical masks were associated with a 66 percent lower risk. Mechanical ventilation was the most effective, leading to an 83% reduction in risk.
McIntyre is also a Principal Investigator at the National Health and Medical Research Council, where he leads research programs on infectious disease prevention and control. She pointed out the importance of wearing masks in medical settings.
“SARS-CpV-2 has not disappeared, has not mutated into the common cold, and is still killing people. Many hospitals around the world cannot function with high levels of sickness in their staff, so some time ago We are now reinstating full-face masks after abolishing them in 2011,” McIntyre said. “And patients are actually getting COVID-19 in hospitals and dying from it.”
“Masks are a very important and simple measure to protect staff and patients. Elderly care is another situation. may be encouraged to wear masks.”
“Science WhatsApp groups are trending”
McIntyre isn’t the only scientist advising people to wear masks during periods of high contagiousness. And with the emergence of this new variant, some people develop symptoms more urgently.
Trisha GreenhullA professor of primary health care at the University of Oxford in the UK said in a tweet that it was time to “mask” again as the new variant continues to spread.
“My various scientific WhatsApp groups are going viral. Clips and diagrams of my genetic lineage come and go. I barely understand the details, but it seems it’s time to mask up again.” greenhull Said.
Professor Christina Pagel, a mathematician from the Clinical Operations Research Unit at University College London, UK, also specializes in operational research, data analysis and mathematical modeling related to the medical field, on how masks prevent the spread of infection. It has spoken widely and is now issuing warnings. Against the influence of Eris.
“To everyone else – albeit in its early days, this coronavirus variant (currently present in two countries) has many new mutations that are different from the previous Omicron strains, so it could cause a big wave. It could be even more volatile,” Pagel said. Tweet.
All viruses change and mutate. Ellis is not the first COVID-19 variant we have seen so far.
This development is therefore less alarming and certainly not a surprise to scientists.
From what scientists have observed so far, Eris is less severe than other subspecies. However, it is still a new coronavirus infection, which has killed nearly 7 million people worldwide as of August 16, according to the WHO.
“The new variant is of concern because the latest booster vaccine does not provide adequate protection,” McIntyre said. bad,” he said.
Ellis is more closely related to the XBB variant first detected by the WHO in 2021, or Omicron, McIntyre said. However, XBB booster vaccination is not yet available.
“In May, WHO recommended boosters for XBB. Unfortunately, with the end of the state of emergency, this will impact the speed and cost of obtaining new boosters,” McIntyre said. Ta. “The United States may get these in October, but the importance of masks will increase if highly immune-evading variants, or variants that are poorly compatible with existing vaccines, emerge. Covid-19 The virus remains the leading cause of death worldwide, causing its decline “in U.S. life expectancy.”
COVID-19 is primarily dangerous for vulnerable people, such as those with pre-existing medical conditions and the elderly. This means that young, healthy people are less severely affected and may even have no symptoms.
“The reason masks are important is that about 30 to 50 percent of infections are asymptomatic, so you don’t know if you’re infected or if someone around you is infected. That’s why masks are important. It makes a difference,” McIntyre said.
“They work by reducing both the risk of healthy people getting infected and the risk of infected people spreading it. SARS-CoV-2 is spread primarily by aerosols and inhalation, but it is commonly believed that It’s not spread by someone sneezing in your face, like they are.” This can also cause infection, but airborne viruses can survive in the air for several hours and can spread to humans just by breathing that air. It is not common because it can infect “
Masks do not completely eliminate the spread of infection, but they still prevent the spread of high viral loads.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, a huge amount of research has been done on this, showing that ventilation (even with windows open) and masks reduce the risk.
“Even if I wear an N95, sometimes [respirator]”People can get infected, but the exposure to the virus will be low and the person may not get sick as much, which is a well-established dose-response relationship in virology,” says McKinn. Tyre said. The more you expose yourself, the more sick you become. “