Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen different strains and surges of COVID 19 cases pop up around the globe.
In the fall of 2020, we saw mutations of the virus in places like the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.
Today, even while the vaccine is being distributed, we are seeing the highest levels of cases since the beginning of the pandemic. India specifically has it the worst as we speak with reported cases of over 360k per day.
Are masks still required to stop covid cases?
Sometimes it feels like there’s no stopping this thing. But, *deep breath* there is hope!
We are seeing there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, and people everywhere are seeing that light.
Unfortunately, we’re not quite out of the tunnel yet. With the vaccination numbers rising, mask requirements will continue to change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently stated that fully vaccinated people can be in small groups outdoors without masks on.
*Disclaimer: we are not advocating for or against vaccination– merely speculating.
So far, according to an article in the New York Times, 1.18 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. This is equal to 15 doses for every 100 people, and 83% of these shots were administered in middle to high-income countries.
Many people, however, are still not vaccinated. Some don’t plan on getting it at all. A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 Americans refuse to take the vaccine, which experts worry will affect “herd immunity” and continue the spread of the virus.
So, do we need to keep wearing face masks?
As long as there are people who have not been vaccinated, face masks should still be worn in most places. The vaccine protects us from the dangerous symptoms of COVID-19, but others who are not vaccinated can still catch the virus from us.
According to infectious disease doctors, vaccines do protect against variants. Scientifically speaking, our immune system is robust and protects us with not only the antibodies (B-cells) but also T-cells, which have a broader, more long-term response.
Thus, variants of the virus are not as much of a threat as some skeptics think.
Now, let’s get a little more in-depth about variants, shall we?
The definition of a variant is “a form or version of something that differs in some respect from other forms of the same thing or a standard.”
In biological terms, geographic isolation refers to lifeforms or organisms that are separated from each other geographically, and therefore don’t exchange the same genetic material with other organisms of the same species.
Speciation is an evolutionary process that spawns a new species. This happens naturally in nature but is also recreated in science labs for things like agriculture and experimentation.
We can use the classic example of finches in the Galápagos observed by Charles Darwin. The finches on this island were geographically isolated from other species of finch and unable to breed with one another.
They developed into a unique species with different characteristics through the process of speciation.
So, why is this relevant? you might be wondering. Well, the evolutionary processes we just discussed happen over millennia.
Viruses, however, are their own beast. They adapt quickly and are the fastest form of evolution, known as “viral evolution”. This happens when the host develops immunity and in response, the virus develops a counter-attack. The virus comes into contact with the host cells and infects the cell of the host membrane. This is the virus-host interaction.
Travelers, be wary. Variants happen due to viral evolution and geographic isolation, meaning the more we cross geographical borders, the more variants we will see.
To answer the overarching question, as of May 2021: Yes, face masks are still required to stop covid cases. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Ora Brands Face Mask options on our website that are highly effective.
In short, face masks should be used in conjunction with the vaccines if we wish to fully eliminate the risks of transmission. As mentioned before, there is still a percentage of the population that does not yet have access to vaccines.
So for now, mask up!