Face masks critical till herd immunity is reached

Face masks critical till herd immunity is reached

Recent research showed that face masks helped to curtail the COVID 19 spread in the US, when face mask mandate was in effect in different states, says Dr Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University.

Lubbock, USA, April 29, 2021

 

Vaccinations and other countermeasures such as face masks, physical
distancing, etc, are critical to conquer the pandemic. A second pandemic wave
is ravaging India with a recent single day rise of 352,991 cases, making it a
global record since the beginning of the pandemic. As it is a global crisis and
affects the entire world, it is a noble responsibility for countries to support
India in its war against the pandemic.

 

Global infectious disease experts emphasize the importance of swift
vaccination and mass vaccination of about 70-80% to reach herd immunity. While
it may take a few months to achieve this level of vaccination, it is important
that people use face masks and practice maximum safety. “Right now, virus is
still winning and hence public health measures such as hygiene, face coverings
are important,” stated Dr Manickavasagam Sundaram, MD, PhD, Department of
Medicine, Lakeridge Health, Oshawa, Canada. Even with the availability of
vaccines in some nations, there is an issue with vaccine hesitancy, emergence
of new variants, that emphasize the importance of safety precautions, added Dr
Sundaram.

 

Recently, research carried out in the Nonwovens and Advanced
Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University showed that face
masks helped to curtail the COVID-19 spread in the United States
, when face
mask mandate was in effect in different states. Results showed that 63% of the
states saw a decrease in daily and cumulative cases 21 days after the mandates
began, and 66% saw a reduction after 28 days. “I believe proper wearing of face
coverings, in addition to other mitigation measures, can help reduce the spread
of SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, the fit of the face coverings is important,”
stated James Ayodeji, researcher involved in the face mask project.

 

Fiber scientists and textile chemists have a greater role to play in
developing highly efficient personnel protective equipment. Much research is
needed to understand the effect of fibers such as cotton and blends as well as
the structure of masks on viral barrier and protection capabilities.

 

“It is incumbent upon every individual to conduct themselves in a
responsible way with appropriate behavior such as the use of face coverings and
practicing physical distancing,” stated Pune-based Amarashish Phanse, a
COVID-19 survivor, who lost his wife due to COVID complications.

 

It is clear from those who have been victims of the pandemic that
responsibility rests with the public to get properly vaccinated and to avoid
transmission. Recent safety lax in India has been widely recognized as the
reason for the surge. “Given the large population to be vaccinated in India,
social distancing and correct use of masks need to be strictly enforced. This
will help while the nation is gearing up the vaccination,” stated Mumbai-based
Dilip Raghavan, Editor of Colourage. As a person who is in the epicenter of the
pandemic in India, Raghavan added a sense of complacency kicked in between the
end of the first surge and the beginning of the current one, whose results are
being witnessed now. “A protection strategy would be to distribute reusable
face masks and other hygiene products instead of spending huge amounts on
hospital infrastructure,” stated Kochi-based Sreekumar Raghavan, Editor,
Pallikkutam, The Education Observer.

 

We have a collective responsibility to conquer the virus by
following recommended safety measures, and with mass vaccination.

 

About the Author:

Dr Seshadri Ramkumar is the Professor, Nonwovens & Advanced
Materials Laboratory, at Texas Tech University, Texas, USA. He can be reached
on email: s.ramkumar@ttu.edu

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