Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed what the science has been telling us all along about the effectiveness of face masks — that they’re currently our best bet at getting a handle on the coronavirus pandemic.
They make such a difference, in fact, that some experts suspect they’ll be just as reliable ― if not more ― as a vaccine when it comes to blunting the spread of COVID-19.
“These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings,” Redfield said during a recent Senate hearing.
Redfield went onto to say that masks may offer more of a guarantee than a vaccine. President Donald Trump later shut down the comments, but the medical community stood behind Redfield.
Because the vaccines are still in clinical trials, it’s currently unclear how effective they’ll be. It’s thought they may trigger an immune response in about 70% of people, rendering some vaccinated people unprotected. Other vaccinated people may not get sick but carry the infection and contribute to community spread, and who knows when we’ll have enough doses for everyone.
The end goal here is herd immunity, and to achieve that we’ll need enough of the population to be immune to COVID-19, either through a highly effective vaccine or by beating the infection itself.
Long story short: There are way too many unknowns to start taking our masks off soon. Until we have more data, health experts say masks are a must for a while. Here’s why we’re still going to need to wear masks well into 2021:
We won’t have enough doses of the vaccine at first.
The main reason masks aren’t going away anytime soon is because there’s going to be a super limited supply of vaccines when it first becomes available.
Those initial doses are likely going to go right to the people who need protection most: at-risk...