CDC chief says masks better at stopping coronavirus than a vaccine

dublinbay z6 (KS)

Get those masks out! They are your best chance!

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"In a congressional hearing Wednesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, held up the disposable surgical mask he had been wearing and declared that the simple covering may ultimately be better than a much-hoped-for vaccine.

This face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine,” Redfield said. . . . That disease has now killed about 200,000 people in the United States.

Redfield went on to say that a vaccine could have an immunogenicity of 70 percent, meaning that it may not work in close to one-third of people to whom it is administered.

“If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will.”

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that “since masks can filter out some virus-containing droplets” but not all viral particles, a mask could act as a kind of exposure therapy, prepping the body to fight the coronavirus without actually sickening the subject.

“If this theory bears out, population-wide masking, with any type of mask that increases acceptability and adherence, might contribute to increasing the proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections that are asymptomatic,” the article said. The reasoning behind this idea is that people wearing masks would receive a much smaller viral load than people without masks.

[. . .]

“The idea that mechanical barriers can be more effective than vaccines in stopping transmission isn’t crazy,” University of Chicago computational biologist Sarah Cobey explained to Yahoo News. “It’s basically how we controlled cholera and other enteric pathogens: We improved plumbing rather than developing an especially effective vaccine.”

It is not clear if Redfield was responding specifically to the New England Journal of Medicine study, but there is plenty of other evidence that masks prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

The comments bluntly contradicted what President Trump said during a televised town hall the evening before. “A lot of people think the masks are not good,” he said before going on to discuss how restaurant waiters “play” with their masks.

[. . . ]

Trump did correctly note that Redfield and other top scientists told people not to wear masks early in the pandemic. That was in part because some officials feared that a run on face coverings could deplete hospitals of personal protective equipment. In addition, the novel nature of the coronavirus meant that scientists had not yet fully grasped how relentlessly it spreads through the air.

That guidance has long been discarded, with many governors and local officials from both parties encouraging people to wear masks. Trump and his closest supporters are outliers in that regard, evidently seeing resistance to masks as a potent argument to rally conservatives.

Redfield has struggled to assert his independence from the White House, but the methodical, apolitical doctor often seems poorly suited for the bare-knuckle style of Washington under Trump. But at least on the matter of masks, he had no trouble making the case on Wednesday morning.

These face masks are the most important public health tool we have,” Redfield said. The comments were widely and approvingly shared on social media almost as soon as they were made, suggesting that most Americans are exhausted by the face mask culture war.

In fact, the vast majority of people support mask wearing, at least in principle, regardless of political affiliation.

[. . .]

Absent a mask mandate or new lockdown-like restrictions, the nation will have to wait for a vaccine. That could be a long wait. In his testimony, Redfield said that even if such a vaccine is forthcoming in the next two or three months, its supply will be “very limited,” meaning that it will be many more months until ordinary Americans are able to receive inoculations.

Redfield predicted that that level of vaccination, and the accompanying resumption of ordinary life, will not occur until the end of 2021."


https://news.yahoo.com/cdc-chief-says-masks-better-at-stopping-coronavirus-than-a-vaccine-173526486.html

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I hear you, Dr. Redfield. And I hope most of America does also.

We are in for a long haul, folks.

Kate

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Comments (36)
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Joaniepoanie

And to the two women at Bj’s today——(1) masks don’t work if you have it pulled down under your nose and (2) put the mask on in your car, not after you’ve entered the store and grabbed a cart!

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Good advice, Joanie. Wish there were some way to pass that info along to the two "culprits."

Kate

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socks(10a)

My son calls those "convertible masks." Seriously, there is no excuse for that. If you can't breathe wearing a mask, go home.

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terezosa / terriks

Maybe print this out on cards and hand it out to under nose mask wearers.


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jmm1837

I hear that Trump says Dr. Redfern misunderstood the question. Trump is arguing with the head of the CDC on a medical issue? Dumber than a bag of hammers.

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Iris GW

Wearing a mask is better until we get a vaccine, of course, which apparently is some time away still. I'm sure he was in part trying to get people to start wearing (if they are not) and keep wearing for many months to come.

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terezosa / terriks

He was also saying that depending on how effective the vaccine is, masks may still be more effective than the vaccine, which may be only 50% effective.

There is also this new hypothesis that mask wearing could possibly be a form of variolation, and could generate immunity in the population. None of this is proven, but it is an interesting theory. More information in this New England Journal of Medicine article.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2026913

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Exactly, terezosa. And thanks for the link to the New England Journal of Medicine article on the topic.

Kate

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Ziemia(6a)

What he said seems to have been summarized unhelpfully by many journalists. Poorly written headlines confuse those who mostly only read or hear headlines, like Trump.

Redfield said (when addressing the fact that the first vaccines aren't expected to perfectly produce immunity):

This face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine,


is not the same as (imo) this:

"... declared that the simple covering may ultimately be better than a much-hoped-for vaccine."


It seems Redfield is saying that face masks are effective and will remain important for some time even after vaccinations start.

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Ziemia(6a)

I have gotten a bit chill about the nose thing as long as they aren't sneezing. Not the best thing but much better to have a covered mouth than an uncovered mouth. (Spewing while talking & singing seems to be a significant (& potentially very dangerous) thing.

I noticed how much I touch fruit while deciding which to buy and that really impressed me. I will limit my time in stores because of this - not always getting everything on my list.

Bottom line, I worry more about spewing when talking, so the nose uncovered no longer stresses me and I keep my distance. (Hand sanitizer in full view in the car.)

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maifleur03

Ziemia and others who are out shopping and touch things. Wear gloves. One of the Asian stores that I shop at for goodies has/had a sign on the door stating gloves were required. They do make it more difficult to feel and if the item that was touched did have the virus on it might spread it from item to item it is something to think about doing.

This is normally the start of my favorite food shopping time of the year. Starts with the arrival of mooncakes then in the regular stores the test marketing of new foods. I love trying different things although I find if I really like something it is never seen again on the grocery shelf.

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bfox254

I so wish masks hadn't become politicized. We'd be in a much better place.

Trump contradicting his own CDC director is just plain desperate and dumb.

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bleusblue2

Malfleur I don't see the point in regular glove wearing while shopping. I think you are supposing that an affected person is then NOT spreading the virus to the fruit he touches. That might work if you walk into a store and wait to put them on before starting to shop -- but what about the shopping cart that you then touch with your gloves? What about the cans and boxes you pick up followed by the fruit you check? What else will you touch with those gloves? I think glove wearing protection is pretty problematic.

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terezosa / terriks

Many of the grocery stores in Spain have disposable plastic gloves in the produce section to be worn when choosing fruits and vegetables. It's not a Covid thing, it's a "¡no toque la fruta!" thing.

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chisue

Do we have a vaccine now? No. When there is one, how long will it take to be distributed? Will we require two doses, some months apart? When will we know if it's effective, or how effective it is? (A recent flu vaccine proved 16% effective against that year's most common strain of flu.)

In the meantime, what do we have? We have masks, distancing, washing.

Redford says masks have uses beyond limiting the spread of COVID. They can ALSO help by letting us breathe in *reduced amounts* of the virus, enough to alert our immune systems to recognize the virus and mount a resistance. It's just another plus for masking.

(Masks need to filter all of your breath. Unless you are a slack-jawed mouth-breather, COVER YOUR NOSE.)

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bob_cville

Not only is it possible that a mask will be more effective than any given vaccine currently in development, it is also virtually certain that the incidence of negative effects due to a mask will be far less and far less severe than any of those vaccines

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adoptedbyhounds

What we know and what we think we know about Covid19 has undergone many revisions.

It makes sense to me to wear a mask, because there's a chance it might slow the spread of the virus. At the same time, no one should forget that even the experts have drawn conclusions they thought made sense, only to later change their minds.

Those of you wanting to look back at advice on masking, might enjoy the link below.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/05/22/mask-wearing_guidance_a_timeline_of_slow-to-shift_messaging_143264.html#!

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jmm1837

As we progress through a pandemic, our understanding of how a particular disease is transmitted, increases and improves. We now know what we didn't know earlier: masks are in fact an effective countermeasure. Amazing example of studying and testing leading to knowledge. Learning, they call it.

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maifleur03

blues you need to think about what I wrote. If an infected person covers their hands they can not leave stuff on what they pick up. If the virus would happen to be on the food your gloves would protect you. Hopefully you would have the sense to remove the gloves after you put your food in your car but before you get into your car.

Would putting on the gloves be any different than putting on the mask before you enter a store????

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jmm1837

There's very little evidence of Covid actually being transmitted by surface contact. It can survive for varying periods on a surface, but if you wash your hands after shopping, you're not very likely to pick it up from handling fruit in a supermarket. Personally, I use the store's hand sanitiser on entry and exit and wash my hands when I get home.

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bleusblue2

maifleur03

blues you need to think about what I wrote. If an infected person covers their hands they can not leave stuff on what they pick up. If the virus would happen to be on the food your gloves would protect you. Hopefully you would have the sense to remove the gloves after you put your food in your car but before you get into your car.

Would putting on the gloves be any different than putting on the mask before you enter a store????

~~~~

You make a good point and I do get it. But you put your mask on and leave it on and pass from area to area. You wear those gloves and you MUST touch things so even if you aren't passing the infection from yourself to the fruit you may pick up the virus on other objects and then pass to the fruit, etc. HOWEVER -- I like the practice mentioned above -- Spanish supermarket -- you put on gloves provided once inside the produce section and discard when leaving produce.

Even then, in the end I think there is a lot of little diddly stuff going on with it. I agree that it isn't hard to put on gloves. How often do you see anybody wearing them in the grocery store? I have never seen that myself. Let the CDC or Dr. Fauci come out with a protocol and then we can all try to follow it. Until then it's best to be careful with the groceries we carry home, washing them, spraying cans, washing our hands.



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texanjana(8)

The latest information that I have read on wearing gloves says that the only time they are needed is when caring or disinfecting for someone who is ill. In public places, they give a false sense of security. Most people also remove them improperly which increases contamination risk. IMO, it’s better to use wipes, sanitizer and wash hands when returning home.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7402195/

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patriciae_gw(07)

How did I miss this thread. That wearing a mask is a form of Variolation is fascinating. Virologists tell us that the dose of virus you get matters in most cases. If you get a very light dose and it does in fact lead to a light case then you have achieved a level of immunity. In the history of Small Pox vaccination, the very first vaccination, was variolation. A small amount of small pox matter made from scabs or ooze from sores was put into a cut and covered over(they used walnut hulls in europe) the hoped for result was a mild case of small pox. About 2% of the people for whom this was done died vs 20% for people who got it the old fashioned way. Most had minor scaring vs massive scaring, blindness and mental impairment for some who got it wild. The down side of getting it by accident were so severe people were willing to be inoculated and even have their children done. If wearing a mask keeps the viral load low enough to make you get the asymptomatic version then that is something to add to the arsenal of why you ought to suck it up and put it on.

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batyabeth

If wearing a mask keeps the viral load low enough to make you get the
asymptomatic version then that is something to add to the arsenal of why
you ought to suck it up and put it on.

yes!

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Ziemia(6a)

Patricia: "That wearing a mask is a form of Variolation is fascinating."

I don't think Redfield was talking about variolation. My read is that he was saying masks are very effective and with a 70% 'success' rate for the vaccine - it will take a long time to reach herd immunity via vaccination.

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HU-293745350

David J. Court @ twitter

Protest Singers; a synopsis.

Billie Holiday: Racism

Edwin Starr: War

Bob Dylan: Injustice

Bob Marley: Inequality

N.W.A: Police Brutality

Woody Guthrie: Fascism

Ian Brown/N. Gallagher/Van Morrison: Cotton masks/being inside for a bit

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chisue

I suppose I will need to isolate forever. I have an incurable blood cancer and only survive by receiving infusion therapy to fight it. Am I at risk from 'low dose' virus from people wearing masks? Must I wear an N95 mask (virtually impossible to find) to protect myself...and a surgical mask to protect others? I don't see how a vaccine -- or herd immunity without one -- will aid people like me.

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elvis

So CDC chief said basically that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Well, no. He said that wearing a mask (which some studies say reduce one's risk by something like 14%) is more effective than getting a vaccine. That is, if the vaccine is ineffective. Of course, masks don't work either, if they're not effective masks, properly worn.

I can't believe how many people ran with his statement. Oh wait...

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elvis


jmm1837

There's very little evidence of Covid actually being transmitted by surface contact. It can survive for varying periods on a surface, but if you wash your hands after shopping, you're not very likely to pick it up from handling fruit in a supermarket.

"Very little evidence". Today, that is.

Personally, I use the store's hand sanitiser on entry and exit and wash my hands when I get home.

I'm with Mai on this one. Mai, I do exactly what you described. Good for us!

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patriciae_gw(07)

Ziemia, I was commenting on the embedded article from the New England Journal of Medicine that talks about studies that show that when virtually everyone wears masks the percentage of asymptomatic cases can more than double in those that test positive. That would be a case of variolation. They are positing that is the reason for that change.

excerpts from the report:

"If the viral inoculum matters in determining the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection, an additional hypothesized reason for wearing facial masks would be to reduce the viral inoculum to which the wearer is exposed and the subsequent clinical impact of the disease. Since masks can filter out some virus-containing droplets (with filtering capacity determined by mask type),2 masking might reduce the inoculum that an exposed person inhales. If this theory bears out, population-wide masking, with any type of mask that increases acceptability and adherence,2 might contribute to increasing the proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections that are asymptomatic. The typical rate of asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2 was estimated to be 40% by the CDC in mid-July, but asymptomatic infection rates are reported to be higher than 80% in settings with universal facial masking,"

"In an outbreak on a closed Argentinian cruise ship, for example, where passengers were provided with surgical masks and staff with N95 masks, the rate of asymptomatic infection was 81% (as compared with 20% in earlier cruise ship outbreaks without universal masking). In two recent outbreaks in U.S. food-processing plants, where all workers were issued masks each day and were required to wear them, the proportion of asymptomatic infections among the more than 500 people who became infected was 95%, with only 5% in each outbreak experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms.3 Case-fatality rates in countries with mandatory or enforced population-wide masking have remained low, even with resurgences of cases after lockdowns were lifted."

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Ziemia(6a)

Ok, patricia, I now see what you were referring to. However, there is an *"if"* so it is still in the hypothesis stage, it seems.

Edited: mask wearing AND distancing

With the nasty nature of Covid-19, I am not counting on a *maybe* for protection. It is good to see hopeful information but I still distinguish between known & hypothesized.

“If this theory bears out, population-wide masking, with any type of mask that increases acceptability and adherence...."

*****

Edited: mask wearing AND distancing for protection until herd immunity is achieved, however it develops

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Ziemia(6a)

elvis: "So CDC chief said basically that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"."

Well, no. That isn't what Redfield said. (Maybe Alexander said that?)

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patriciae_gw(07)

You are right Ziemia. It seems the point is to somehow motivate those resistant to wearing masks in giving them another reason to do so. If the mask is more breathable and comfortable to wear even though it would not be optimal for protection it would be acceptable (sort of) since it would help to a degree. I dont believe this should be the go to instead of a vaccine but it certainly could be a component for the young and healthy in the mean time if it proves out. I will wear my mask regardless.

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Iris GW

Basically, the mask is the best shot you have right now of avoiding the virus while still going out in public.

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elvis

From reading posts throughout this debacle, I'd be very surprised if any of the regular posters aren't using masks, and carefully.

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terezosa / terriks

Yes, the pandemic under Trump has been a debacle. Perfect word for it.

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