Why the mask is important now, already vaccinated against the coronavirus

Why the mask is important now, already vaccinated against the coronavirus

Several experts warn that the high vaccination coverage against the coronavirus in Spain will mitigate the new wave but not eliminate it. Although vaccines prevent serious disease, they are not an insurmountable shield and must be supplemented with behavioral measures.

The message that you have to keep protecting yourself with mask, distance, ventilation and hand washing It has been repeated since the beginning of vaccination, but in the midst of the rebound of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in Europe it takes on even more importance.

For Angela Domínguez García, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Barcelona, ​​“we must not forget that the pandemic is a global problem, and that we will have the solution globally, combining the vaccination of the more population the better in all countries and the measures non-pharmacological prevention measures, which undoubtedly contribute to reducing transmission ”.

“Vaccines clearly prevent serious forms of the disease, hospitalizations and deaths,” he adds, but “neither is the entire population vaccinated, nor are vaccines effective in 100% of the people to whom they are administered”, says the expert in statements to Covid Vaccine Media Hub.

Will what is happening now in Germany with the coronavirus happen in Spain?

“The waves due to the rebound in coronavirus infections in each country usually have their own characteristics, depending on the variant that circulates, the vaccination coverage in the different groups and the monitoring of non-pharmacological prevention measures,” answers Domínguez García, member of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology.

If in our country coverage is increasing and non-pharmacological prevention measures are followed by the majority, we can expect that the impact of the new wave will be less in Spain than in Germany

In his opinion, “if coverage increases in our country and non-pharmacological prevention measures are followed by the majority of citizens, although the variant that circulates in both countries is the same, we can expect that the impact of the new wave will be lower in Spain than in Germany ”.

Too Teresa Ruiz Cantero, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Alicante, hopes that “mass vaccination will protect us” from critical situations, such as those experienced in other stages of the pandemic. But remember: “This is a pandemic, what happens in other countries will come here too.”

In our favor, in addition to almost 90% of the population with the complete schedule of the coronavirus vaccine, there is the fact that the climate in Spain still allows us to live abroad, says Ruiz Cantero: “The cold comes later” .

For when social life moves especially indoors, this expert appeals to what has been learned in these months: “We know that in summer, with more time outside, we will not need the mask so much; in winter, on the contrary ”.

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The most comprehensive study on the mask confirms its effectiveness

A constant source of uncertainty for those responsible for managing the pandemic, and citizens themselves, has been determining how much non-pharmacological measures actually protect from contagion. For the first time, a meta-analysis —a work that analyzes the results of several studies on a topic— evaluates the available evidence regarding the efficacy of masks, interpersonal distance and hand washing, and concludes that, in effect, these measures “ are associated with a reduction in the incidence of covid-19 ”.

For the first time, a large study analyzes the efficacy of masks, interpersonal distance and hand washing, and concludes that, indeed, these measures “are associated with a reduction in the incidence of COVID-19”

The study, which brings together the results of eight works – after evaluating more than seventy – is published in BMJ. Your conclusion – explained here graphically – it may seem obvious, but the truth is that the lack of research on the effectiveness of behavioral measures is considered one of the great gaps in pandemic science.

Lack of studies on the efficacy of behavioral measures against the coronavirus

The editors of BMJ affirm in a editorial: “Although extensive trials of vaccines and drug treatments have been conducted during the pandemic, much less has been done to assess the effects of social and public health measures to appease the coronavirus.” The lack of “good research” in this area is to BMJ “A pandemic tragedy.”

The experts consulted fully agree. “This work is valuable because it is the first to analyze in depth the effectiveness of behavioral measures,” says Ruiz Cantero, “but it also highlights the deficiencies in research; he tells us: ‘we are like this and this is where we have to go’ ”.

Specifically, the study highlights – Ruiz Cantero points out – the need for analyzes that measure indicators in the same way, to make comparison possible.

Prospective studies are also needed designed so that the individual effect of each of the protective measures can be observed in isolation. The authors of the work now published in the BMJ acknowledge that this has now been practically impossible.

Combined effect of several measures

Angela Domínguez is of the same opinion: “The study of Stella talic et al. jointly analyzes the results of studies published by different authors on the effectiveness of non-pharmacological prevention measures, such as hand hygiene, the use of masks and the maintenance of physical distance between people, and concludes that these measures are associated with reducing the incidence of coronavirus cases ”.

“The main problem in specifying the contribution of each of these measures is that in general they are not adopted separately, but at the same time by the same people (…). It would be interesting to have studies that analyze how various of these measures jointly influence the decrease in the incidence of covid-19 ”, adds Ángela Domínguez.

This researcher recalls that the WHO recommends “To promote studies that help clarify the relative importance of the different prevention measures.”