upamfva created the topic: Some experts recommend upgrading to N95 masks to help fight the Delta variant
Some experts recommend upgrading to N95 masks to help fight the Delta variant
As the CDC has recommended all Americans, regardless of coronavirus vaccination status, return to wearing face coverings in indoor public places to help thwart the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, the mask debate is in the spotlight once again. But some experts say the recommendations should specify the kind of masks people should be using.To get more news about
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As of July 27, 2021, the CDC has released the following updated guidance. The Agency updated information for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant currently circulating in the United States.
Delta is so contagious that when we talk about masks, I don't think we should just talk about masks," Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said during a recent appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I think we should be talking about high-quality masks," such as N95 respirators.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine and an infectious-disease expert at the University of California at San Francisco, expressed a similar sentiment: "We can't say we're going back to masks without discussing type of mask."
Vaccinations, experts emphasized, remain the first line of defense against the coronavirus. "Far and away the best prevention we have are still the vaccines," Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told Yahoo News. "All of these things pale in comparison to getting the remaining people who are eligible for vaccination vaccinated."
But amid concerns about the rapid spread of the delta variant, "it's a fantastic idea at this point in time to move toward higher-quality masks," especially if you're unvaccinated or otherwise vulnerable to severe disease, said Chris Cappa, an environmental engineer and professor at the University of California at Davis. And for fully vaccinated individuals who may still be at risk of breakthrough infections, he noted, "the Delta variant is a good reminder that we shouldn't necessarily quit wearing masks when we're in environments that might be prone to transmission." Not all masks are created equal. The efficacy of a mask is based on its material and fit. Medical-grade respirators, such as N95 masks, can provide greater protection from infectious coronavirus particles than surgical masks or cloth masks, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission.
And because the delta variant is much more easily transmissible than previously circulating strains of the coronavirus, "we really need highly protective masks along with everything else," Marr said. "Where a simple cloth mask was helpful before, it's not helpful enough now," particularly for people who remain unvaccinated.
The woven material of many cloth masks isn't as effective at filtering particles as the nonwoven, meltblown polypropylene used to make surgical masks and respirators, Marr said. And properly worn N95s have a leg up on standard surgical masks because they are designed to fit snugly to the face - which allows them to filter at least 95 percent of airborne particulates.
But, Marr noted, it's important to be wary of counterfeit respirators. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online guide with lists of N95 masks approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and tips for spotting counterfeit ones.