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Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask After Getting the COVID Vaccine? , Young woman getting vaccinated wearing a protective mask

An effective vaccine is the first big step toward ending the coronavirus pandemic, and that’s exactly what’s being rolled out across the US right now. But our days of wearing face masks aren’t over yet. While both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are more than 90% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, we still don’t know whether they prevent you from  spreading the virus to other people. That’s why experts strongly advise that everyone mask up, and that includes anyone who has received the vaccine.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with COVID-19, meaning it’s completely possible that some vaccinated people could subsequently get infected but not develop any symptoms. Those people could then transmit the virus without being aware of it, and the biggest risk is that they spread it to others who haven’t been vaccinated yet, Anne Rimoin, PhD, MPH, professor of epidemiology at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, tells Health.

“It will take time to widely distribute the vaccine and achieve herd immunity (and that’s not guaranteed), so non-pharmaceutical interventions like mask wearing and social distancing will continue to be crucial to stopping the spread,” explains Rimoin. If many Americans continue to be hesitant about getting the vaccine, there could be a lot of susceptible people, she adds. Remember, some people aren’t able to get vaccinated, such as those with severe allergic reactions to vaccine ingredients. And some pregnant or breastfeeding women may choose not to receive the vaccine until more information is available about the safety of the vaccines in those groups.

Continuing to wear a face mask is also important because of the new COVID variants that have been identified. Because they’re thought to be more infectious, they can spread more easily to more people if vaccinated people are able to transmit the virus and don’t wear a mask, Rimoin warns.

There’s another reason to keep masking up even after you’ve been vaccinated. “In our modern society, we don’t discriminate by immune status, and the ethics of doing so would be a very slippery slope,” Michal Tal, PhD, an immunologist at Stanford University, tells Health. “It’s already hard to get everyone to follow current masking regulations, and now if you have some people who are vaccinated (and likely, but not certainly, immune from developing COVID-19 symptoms) not needing to adhere to those same regulations, it will wreak additional havoc on what has already been an extremely chaotic pandemic response.”

The advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is clear. According to the group’s guidelines, “not enough information is currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Per the CDC guidelines, we need to keep social distancing (by staying six feet away from other people), too. The CDC also recommends avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands often—even after you’ve had your COVID-19 shot.

So will we ever be able to ditch our masks? Hopefully, yes—although they might remain a significant part of life for some.

“I think that we have to continue to wear masks until everyone has had a chance to get vaccinated and we have gotten the virus under control,” Tal says. “When community transmission is low and the majority of people are vaccinated, I think we’ll safely be able to put our masks away.”

However, nobody knows for sure what role masks will play in our future. “I’ve often wondered if one day we will move houses and discover an old box of masks from these days and dust it off, not having thought about it in years, or if we will start to utilize masks more and more to control the spread of other respiratory infections, such as on an especially bad flu year,” Tal says.

“I suspect that moving forward, doctors and nurses may incorporate masks as a standard part of personal protective equipment for their interactions with patients, much as glove wearing became standard during the AIDS epidemic and then became standard protective gear,” she adds. “I think that the vast majority of us, however, can look forward to mask-free days as soon as everyone has had a chance to get vaccinated and viral spread in the community is low.”

Source: https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/wear-mask-after-getting-covid-vaccine

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REUTERS

Early evidence suggests the variant of coronavirus that emerged in the UK may be more deadly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

However, there remains huge uncertainty around the numbers – and vaccines are still expected to work.

The data comes from mathematicians comparing death rates in people infected with either the new or the old versions of the virus.

The new more infectious variant has already spread widely across the UK.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street briefing: “In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant – the variant that was first identified in London and the south east – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.

“It’s largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure.”

Public Health England, Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Exeter have each been trying to assess how deadly the new variant is.

Their evidence has been assessed by scientists on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag).

The group concluded there was a “realistic possibility” that the virus had become more deadly, but this is far from certain.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, described the data so far as “not yet strong”.

He said: “I want to stress that there’s a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it, but it obviously is a concern that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility.”https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.36.7/iframe.htmlmedia captionSir Patrick Vallance: “There is evidence that there’s an increased risk for those who have the new variant”

Previous work suggests the new variant spreads between 30% and 70% faster than others, and there are hints it is about 30% more deadly.

For example, with 1,000 60-year-olds infected with the old variant, 10 of them might be expected to die. But this rises to about 13 with the new variant.

This difference is found when looking at everyone testing positive for Covid, but analysing only hospital data has found no increase in the death rate. Hospital care has improved over the course of the pandemic as doctors get better at treating the disease.

The new variant was first detected in Kent in September. It is now the most common form of the virus in England and Northern Ireland, and has spread to more than 50 other countries.

The Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are both expected to work against the variant that emerged in the UK.

However, Sir Patrick said there was more concern about two other variants that had emerged in South Africa and Brazil.

He said: “They have certain features which means they might be less susceptible to vaccines.

“They are definitely of more concern than the one in the UK at the moment and we need to keep looking at it and studying this very carefully.”

The prime minister said the government was prepared to take further action to protect the country’s borders to prevent new variants from entering.

“I really don’t rule it out, we may need to take further measures still,” he said.

Last week the government extended a travel ban to South America, Portugal and many African countries amid concerns about new variants, while all international travellers must now test negative ahead of departure to the UK and go into quarantine on arrival.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55768627

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  • Infection, death and hospitalisation rates have shown little sign of falling
  • Data from Israel showed first dose of vaccine led to 33% reduction in cases
  • Figure is lower than the British estimate saying it may protect 89 per cent
  • Sir Patrick, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, played down the data on Friday
  • He said it was ‘very preliminary’ and people ‘hadn’t been followed long enough’

Sir Patrick Vallance today said it was too early too draw conclusions from Israel’s vaccination drive after alarm that hospitalisations have not yet dropped.

Israel is currently leading the global vaccination drive, with nearly 39 per cent of its citizens having had at least a single dose of a jab so far.  

However, infection and death rates, as well as the numbers of people in hospital, have shown little sign of falling. 

Latest figures show a further 7,027 tested positive for the virus on Thursday, with 64 new deaths from the disease. Out of 82,930 active cases, 1,918 are hospitalized. Last week, the hospitalisation figure was just over 1,000. 

Addressing the apparent failure of the jab regime in cutting infection rates, Israel’s top coronavirus medic said on Wednesday that the Pfizer vaccine was less effective than expected. 

Real-world data from Israel’s world-beating rollout showed the first dose led to a 33 per cent reduction in cases of coronavirus between 14 and 21 days afterwards in people who got the jab. 

The figure is lower than the British regulator’s estimate, which said it may prevent 89 per cent of recipients from getting Covid-19 symptoms.  

But Sir Patrick, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, told the Downing Street press conference on Friday that the Israeli data was ‘very preliminary’.Israel is currently leading the global vaccination drive, with nearly 39 per cent of its citizens having had at least a single dose of a jab so far

Israel is currently leading the global vaccination drive, with nearly 39 per cent of its citizens having had at least a single dose of a jab so far

Sir Patrick Vallance today said it was too early too draw conclusions from Israel's vaccination drive after alarm that hospitalisations have not yet dropped

Sir Patrick Vallance today said it was too early too draw conclusions from Israel’s vaccination drive after alarm that hospitalisations have not yet dropped

He said: ‘In terms of the Israeli data, I think that was information from one of the organisations that organises health in Israel, I think there are four, and it was preliminary data that came out on the numbers.

‘I think the Israeli health ministry has said they’re not entirely sure those are the final data and they’re expecting the effects to increase so I think it’s very preliminary.

‘These are preliminary information from a subset of people, they haven’t followed people for long enough. 

‘We had a discussion with the Israeli advisers yesterday and they are expecting to get more information over the next few weeks.

‘And I think we are going to have to monitor this very carefully, we’re going to have to keep looking at data and understanding the performance of vaccines in the real world.’

Dr Nachman Ash, one of the medics leading the Covid-19 response in Israel, had told local media Army Radio earlier this week: ‘Many people have been infected between the first and second injections of the vaccine.’ 

It can take 10 days or more for the immunity to kick in.Real-world data from Israel's world-beating rollout showed the first dose led to a 33 per cent reduction in cases of coronavirus between 14 and 21 days afterwards in people who got the jab

Real-world data from Israel’s world-beating rollout showed the first dose led to a 33 per cent reduction in cases of coronavirus between 14 and 21 days afterwards in people who got the jab 

Dr Ash’s comment came  after Britain’s decision to prolong the gap between the first and second doses from three weeks to 12 weeks triggered anger among scientists.

Pfizer’s own data shows that protection from Covid starts from about 12 days after the first dose but one jab can only prevent around 52 per cent of cases of disease, compared to the 95 per cent reduction offered by two. 

It does not offer any proof that a single dose works for longer than three weeks.

For this reason, the US pharmaceutical firm refused to endorse Britain’s decision to change the dosing schedule, saying there was no proof it would work.

Dr Ash suggests the level of protection after the first dose is even lower than the 52 per cent claimed by Pfizer.

Vaccine regulators in the UK have told MPs Pfizer’s jab appeared to work so well after a single jab that they questioned whether the second was necessary at all.Dr Nachman Ash, Israel's top coronavirus medic, said on Wednesday that the Pfizer vaccine was less effective than expected

Dr Nachman Ash, Israel’s top coronavirus medic, said on Wednesday that the Pfizer vaccine was less effective than expected

On Friday, the UK’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty defended the decision to delay offering a second vaccine jab, arguing it allowed for more people to be offered a level of immunity against Covid-19.

He said it was still the plan to offer people two doses of the vaccine because the follow-up injection is understood to boost the length of time that someone is protected for against the virus.

But the Government adviser argued that double the number of people would receive the ‘great majority’ of inoculation available against the deadly disease faster by following the strategy of extending the gap between doses from three weeks to 12.

He made the comments after being challenged by a concerned member of the public at a Downing Street press conference about the decision to delay the follow-up jab.

Prof Whitty said: ‘We are absolutely clear that everybody needs two vaccinations.

‘The first gives the great majority, as far as we can see, of the initial protection, but the second vaccine increases that, and probably makes it longer lasting as well.

‘So, we are very much committed to two vaccinations.

‘The reason for extending the course of the vaccination is primarily to double the number of people that can get vaccinated, and so it is a public health decision.

‘By a process of relatively simple maths, you can think that if a vaccine is more than 50 per cent effective, if you double the number of people who are vaccinated over this very risky period when there is a lot of virus circulating, you are overall going to get some substantial benefit.’

Prof Whitty, pressed on whether the delay could give the virus time to mutate and work against the protection afforded by the first jab, added the decision to delay the second vaccine doses was based on ‘a balance of risk’.

‘I think most people would agree that the risk that was identified was a relatively much smaller risk than the risk of not having people vaccinated, which essentially was the alternative,’ he added. 

Israel started vaccinating on December 19 and had already given doses to 800,000 people before the turn of the year two weeks ago, meaning a large chunk of the 8.7million population should have a fairly high degree of protection by now.  

Israel hopes that the vaccine drive will start to show an effect by mid-February and hopes to vaccinate all its adults by the end of March – when PM Benjamin Netanyahu will face the voters in a snap election.  

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9177457/Its-early-draw-conclusions-Israels-vaccine-drive-insists-Sir-Patrick-Vallance.html?ito=facebook_share_article-top&fbclid=IwAR3rJagqEESqKcPM2LyFO6HXb0dCc9sz4s29zSV2RcAxlTpjG4SfzHWfVV0

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