Should you elect to wear masks when restrictions are lifted ?

U.K. is on course to lift almost all COVID restrictions in mid July 2021.

A U.K. minister has said that “wearing masks” would become a personal choice.

Just because there is a choice, it does not mean it is always good for you.

Government decisions are often made not only with scientific facts but also with economic and political considerations. Compulsory masks may not be liked by a section of society and Government has to take that into account in a democratic society.

Personally electing to wear masks in crowded public places could be sensible for the following reasons.

– There is some debate about the extent of protection a person gets wearing masks following the Danish mask study. But no robust scientific study has shown significant harm from wearing masks. So it is better to be safe and wear masks even if the extent of protection is debatable.

Infections are rising now and luckily, vaccines seem to have protected most people from getting severe COVID. But Vaccines are not 100% effective. Moreover, when infection rates go up further and society opens up more, there is a risk of variants emerging that may be partially vaccine resistant. So wearing masks may provide some protection.

– Not all people get poorly when they get COVID. But these people with COVID can still pass infection to other vulnerable family members and people who don’t have the protection from vaccines. So wearing a mask can stop people with mild COVID from spreading the infection to others.

– Some people do not want to wear masks because they think they are not at risk of death or hospitalisation. Remember, COVID related problems affect different people in different ways. Lot of people do recover from COVID without major problems. But some people do develop long-term symptoms from COVID. So it is better to wear masks for COVID protection.

References

1. BBC news. Covid-19: Masks will become personal choice, says Robert Jenrick
By Emma Harrison & Kathryn Snowdon
BBC News

2. Bloomberg. Face Masks in England to Become ‘Matter of Personal Choice’
By Andrew Atkinson
4 July 2021, 09:47 BST
Updated on 4 July 2021, 11:14 BST

3. Daily Mail. SAJID JAVID: The economic arguments for opening up Britain are well known. But, for me, the health case is equally compelling. By Sajid Javid For The Mail On Sunday 22:02, 03 Jul 2021 , updated 23:13, 03 Jul 2021

4. BBC news. Covid-19 in the UK: How many coronavirus cases are there in my area?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

5. Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

6. BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

7. NICE. COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19
NICE guideline [NG188] Published: 18 December 2020

8. Coronavirus: When can we stop wearing face masks or coverings?
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

9. Science. Implications of defective immune responses in SARS-CoV-2 vaccinated organ transplant recipients. Peter S. Heeger, Christian P. Larsen, Dorry L. Segev

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Do face masks prevent COVID illness ?

Yes, good masks may help to reduce infections that are spread by airborne particles.

But not all masks are the same.

Cloth masks were promoted during 2020 when the proper surgical masks were in short supply . The effectiveness of cloth masks are not well studied and they are of varying quality depending who made them and how well they were made.

Properly manufactured surgical masks are better than home made cloth masks. But how much protection they can offer is a matter of scientific debate. Surgical masks have been found to give some protection against other respiratory viruses in past. But a recent Danish study found no significant benefit against COVID among the general public.

The high quality FFP3 masks which filter most of the inhaled air is superior to normal surgical masks. A recent study from Cambridge found that Heath care workers who used FFP3 masks had better protection from COVID compared to normal surgical masks in the Hospital.

Overall, clean, well manufactured masks are likely to of some benefit to the public rather than wearing no masks at all. In the hospital setting, FFP3 masks seem to provide superior protection to Health care staff working with COVID patients.

And most importantly people have to understand that masks are not to be used alone. Masks got to be used along with protective measures such as social distancing and Hand-washing.

References

CLOTH MASKS

BMJ. Covid-19: What is the evidence for cloth masks? BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1422 (Published 07 April 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1422

DANISH STUDY- SURGICAL MASKS

Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers : A Randomized Controlled Trial
Henning Bundgaard et al. Ann Intern Med. 2021 Mar.

BMJ. Danish mask study: masks, media, fact checkers, and the interpretation of scientific evidence. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4919 (Published 23 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4919

BMJ. The curious case of the Danish mask study
BMJ 2020; 371
doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4586 (Published 26 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4586

Daily Mail. Face masks do NOT protect the wearer from coronavirus, but will stop them from infecting other people, Danish study finds. By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com and Reuters
15:26, 18 Nov 2020 , updated 18:02, 20 Nov 2020

Spectator (magazine) https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/do-masks-stop-the-spread-of-covid-19-

Full fact.org. Danish study on mask efficacy only tells us half the story. 24 NOVEMBER 2020

Forbes. Lead Researcher Behind Controversial Danish Study Says You Should Still Wear A Mask
Leah Rosenbaum. Forbes Staff 18 Nov 2020. Critics of mask-wearing policies used a Danishstudy on mask-wearing to bolster their claims such policies are ineffective, but scientists, including those involved with the study, disagree.

JAMA Insights
February 10, 2021
Effectiveness of Mask Wearing to Control Community Spread of SARS-CoV-2
John T. Brooks, MD1; Jay C. Butler, MD1
Author Affiliations
JAMA. 2021;325(10):998-999. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.1505

CAMBRIDGE REPORT ON HIGH QUALITY MASKS

BMJ. Covid-19: Upgrading to FFP3 respirators cuts infection risk, research finds
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1663 (Published 29 June 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1663. https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1663

BBC news. Covid: Masks upgrade cuts infection risk, research finds
By David Shukman
Science editor

Guardian. Cambridge hospital’s mask upgrade appears to eliminate Covid risk to staff
Hospital infection study shows use of FFP3 respirators at Addenbrooke’s ‘may have cut ward-based infection to zero’
Nicola Davis and Denis Campbell
Tue 29 Jun 2021 10.49 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Outdoor face masks: is it helpful or an hindrance?

In the indoor settings, wearing masks can help to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 infection.

But in the outdoor setting, masks may not be very helpful as the risk of getting COVID-19 infection from others, in outdoor settings, is considerably smaller.

Two teams discuss the pros and cons of outdoor mask wearing in a BMJ debate.

Apart from infection prevention, I can see some additional benefits for voluntarily wearing masks in the streets.

The streets of major cities have significant air-pollution. So facial masks can help to reduce inhalation of toxic chemicals.

More and more surveillance street-cameras are now deploying facial-recognition software to deter criminals. But the cameras may also track movements of ordinary law-abiding people for marketing and advertising reasons. So face-masks may also be helpful to those with privacy concerns.

Read the article and submit your views through BMJ rapid response section.

BMJ . Coronavirus Transmission
Should masks be worn outdoors?

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1036 (Published 28 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1036

Sundar S. Voluntary outdoor mask-wearing can have incidental benefits in cities. BMJ rapid response. 2nd May 2021.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Does Hand Washing help to prevent COVID-19 ?

Yes,

But the extent to which Hand washing helps is uncertain.

Masks, Social distancing and Vaccination seem to be more highly important than Hand Washing.

Read the very good Guardian newspaper piece on the topic of hand washing.

References

Guardian: Q&A: Does handwashing stem the transmission of Covid-19?
James Tapper
Sun 14 Feb 2021 10.00 GMT

Daily Mail: So which Covid vaccines is Britain getting – and which one is the best? How two companies’ jabs are already being used, another is coming in March and two more could be approved within weeks. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
11:58, 29 Jan 2021 , updated 02:00, 30 Jan 2021

Daily Mail. Pfizer’s Covid vaccine COULD stop people spreading the virus as well as preventing serious illness, Israeli doctor claims after finding antibody levels surged after second dose. By Emily Webber and Sam Blanchard Deputy Health Editor For Mailonline
12:05, 19 Jan 2021 , updated 14:06, 19 Jan 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can you get COVID-19 infection just by “Talking” to an infected person for a few minutes?

Yes, you can.

You don’t need to be exposed to an infected person who is coughing, sneezing and spluttering to get the infection.

Merely talking to an infected person can make you catch the coronavirus infection particularly if you are very close to the person with infection and not wearing a mask in an indoor setting with poor ventilation.

Remember, Even Vaccines don’t have 100% protection.

Remember to maintain Space and Wear a Face Mask

References

Guardian. Talking can spread Covid as much as coughing, says research.
Tiny aerosols of the virus emitted when speaking linger in air for longer than larger droplets from a cough.
Nicola Davis Science correspondent
@NicolaKSDavis
Wed 20 Jan 2021 00.01 GMT

Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Evolution of spray and aerosol from respiratory releases: theoretical estimates for insight on viral transmission. P. M. de Oliveira , L. C. C. Mesquita , S. Gkantonas , A. Giusti and E. Mastorakos. Published:20 January 2021. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2020.0584

Guardian. Single Covid vaccine dose in Israel ‘less effective than we thought’.
Peter Beaumont
Tue 19 Jan 2021 16.53 GMT

Telegraph: UK to ‘look carefully’ at claims vaccine efficacy in Israel has dropped to 33 per cent with one dose.
Israel’s vaccine tsar says single Pfizer dose appears ‘less effective than we had thought’ as scientists demand evidence is published
By
Sarah Knapton,
SCIENCE EDITOR
20 January 2021 • 1:46pm

Daily Mail: Israel is STILL waiting for its world-beating vaccination drive to kick in as cases and hospitalisations soar higher than ever despite vaccine stopping 50% of new Covid infections. By Chris Jewers For Mailonline11:20, 14 Jan 2021 , updated 18:04, 14 Jan 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should you avoid the Hospitals during this third wave of COVID pandemic?

Yes and No. It depends on how important your hospital visit is.

Recent news reports say that a significant number of patients acquired COVID during their hospital stay. Hospital acquired infections are a serious concern.

Yes, avoid, if you are trying to visit a family member admitted for a routine or elective medical procedure and is doing well.

Yes, avoid, if you can have a satisfactory phone or video consultation with medical team.

No, you should NOT avoid if you have any serious illness like heart attacks, stroke or cancer.

Everything in medicine depends on an assessment of risks versus benefits. For many patients with serious illness, on the whole, the benefits of proper treatment are likely to outweigh the risks of serious problems from COVID and risks can be managed.

If in doubt, ask your doctors or nurse about it. Do not take any action without discussing your concerns with your medical team.

References

Telegraph. Exclusive: Almost as many caught Covid in hospital in past month as in previous four. More than 11,000 people who went into England’s hospitals with unrelated issues contracted virus in December and early January
By Katherine Rushton and Sophie Barnes
14 January 2021 • 9:54pm

BMJ: Views And Reviews. Acute Perspective.
David Oliver: Could we do better on hospital acquired covid-19 in a future wave?
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n70 (Published 13 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n70. davidoliver372@googlemail.com
Follow David on Twitter @mancunianmedic

JAMA: Richterman A, Meyerowitz EA, Cevik M. Hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection: lessons for public health. JAMA2020;324:2155-6. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.21399. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2773128. pmid:33185657

JAMA: Rhee C, Baker M, Vaidya V, et al., CDC Prevention Epicenters Program. CDC Prevention Epicenters Program. Incidence of nosocomial covid-19 in patients hospitalized at a large US academic medical center. JAMA Netw Open2020;3:e2020498. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.20498. pmid:32902653

HSJ. Hospital acquired covid infections hit record high. By Matt Discombe11 December 2020

Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. National report charts challenges of managing COVID-19 transmission in hospitals. 29 Oct 2020. https://www.hsib.org.uk/news/national-report-charts-challenges-managing-covid-19-transmission-hospitals/.

David Oliver: Heed HSIB on covid transmission in hospital. BMJ2020;371:m4306. doi:10.1136/bmj.m4306. pmid:33177046

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice