Health

How the Delta Variant Affects Whether You Wear a Mask or Not

As infections involving the new Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continue to grow around the world, including in the United States, health experts are once again consulting for advice on who should wear masks and when.

On June 28, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised all people, including those vaccinated, to they wear masks in most internal public settings, based on the fact that nearly half of the virus from cases in the county that have been genetically sequenced now belong to the Delta variant. The variant, first identified in India, is much more contagious than previous strains of SARS-CoV-2, and could cause more serious diseases. After the World Health Organization reaffirmed his advice that vaccinated people continue to wear masks when they are in public environments as a precaution. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not yet changed its guidance for vaccines, in short. May magazine, which states that fully vaccinated individuals can resume most of their normal activities without masks. CDC director Dr.Rochelle Walensky said in a broadcast interview that vaccines continue to protect against the Delta variant, and that it is more important for people who are not vaccinated to wear masks to protect themselves from infection. But he acknowledged that local and state policies may decide to be more stringent because of the growing cases of infections with the Delta variant.
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That’s the case in LA county. Studies show that vaccines provide people with sufficient protection from getting sick with COVID-19, but even vaccinated people can still become infected and experience symptoms, although milder and very rare. That’s why Los Angeles health officials have issued a recommendation for all people, vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors in stores, theaters, workplaces and restaurants when they’re not eating, since it is difficult to know whether other people in these environments are vaccinated. The advice comes shortly after the county relaxed social restrictions and allowed restaurants, shopping and entertainment facilities to open while more people were vaccinated.

Dr. Mount Davis, LA County health officer, says the decision is based on the continuing uncertainty of how much vaccine immunity will protect against the Delta variant. Early data from Israel suggest that even fully vaccinated people can be infected with the Delta variant, which is not at all surprising since studies show that vaccines are about 80% effective in protecting people from having COVID. -19. Since there is a chance, even if it is small, that vaccinated people can also become infected and potentially pass along the virus to unvaccinated individuals, asking vaccinated people to put on masks in public is “prudent,” he says. Davis. He says that when they made the recommendation, officials considered the fact that four million people in the county are not vaccinated, and that, according to all counts, vaccinated people who become infected may not experience any symptoms or mild symptoms. so they didn’t know they could transmit the virus.

Local health officials across the country may soon face similar decisions. Nationally, nearly 70% of adult Americans have had at least one stroke, but that number is much smaller in some parts of the country, making those areas at higher risk of outbreaks involving the Delta variant.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the White House, said the best way to slow or stop the variant is to vaccinate as much of the population as possible. , as soon as possible. Variants such as Delta emerge only when the virus reproduces and makes copies of its genetic code; and can do so freely in someone with few immune defenses to fight infections — such as unvaccinated people.

Vaccines continue to be the most vulnerable to infection and to become potentially seriously ill with COVID-19, since the variant is highly contagious. Preliminary report from Australia using narrow-circuit cameras that monitor how long people known to be infected have been in contact with people who eventually become infected suggest that the Delta variant does not need much time to jump from one person to another. another.

“The Delta variant is more infectious, more contagious. So, given that it’s so contagious, and that there are large swathes of the country that don’t have at least 50% of people vaccinated in the United States, then I think the mask recommendations are absolutely in line with the way we do it. we’ve been approaching the pandemic from the beginning, ”says Dr. Kirsten Lyke, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who directs some of the COVID-19 vaccination trials. and I wear a mask at home and abroad even if I am vaccinated. I just think we were quite surprised by COVID-19 that I’m not sure I fully understood the Delta variant, and the degree to which it is transmissible. ”

Lyke says vaccinated people can have “a certain degree of comfort” if they are exposed and out, as the CDC suggests, but that everyone, vaccinated or not, should “continue to be careful. There are micro-polls of people who don’t they’re not vaccinated. And the Delta variant will just cry for them. ”

Vaccines and masks are an insurance policy for everyone, Davis says. “We think of vaccines as seat belts.” If you’re in an accident, you’re less likely to have a serious outcome. ”Given that there are still millions of people who haven’t been vaccinated — and that remains uncertain about how likely a vaccinated person is to be able to spread the virus — the mask recommendation it makes sense, he says, “as we watch and learn more about the Delta variant. It’s not a requirement, but a recommendation for everyone to continue to wear masks in those environments where they don’t know if people are vaccinated at all or not. ”

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