Latest research will attempt to show when we can take off our masks

taking off masks
Photo via michael_swan/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

As research shows, wearing masks to protect yourself and others during an outbreak is an idea that goes back centuries. Until enough of the population gets vaccinated for the world to achieve herd immunity, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Though President Joe Biden has made it clear that he wants people wearing masks, not everybody is in agreement (and at least one bar planned to throw a “mask off” party to celebrate some states getting rid of their mask mandates).  

Yes, there’s more hope to ending the pandemic than we’ve seen in months, but it’s not over yet. January was the deadliest month since the pandemic began, and though the numbers have been coming down since then, there are still heartbreaking stories of entire families dying from the coronavirus. By late March 2021, coronavirus rates were beginning to rise again. 

That’s why the continued wearing of masks in our everyday lives is imperative. More research continues to emerge about the masks and whether they should be worn to help stave off coronavirus transmissions, and the vast majority of it shows masks are vital to keep people safe from COVID-19. Here’s some of the latest research.  

With about half of all U.S. adults receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of mid-April 2021, people might be wondering when they can fling off their masks for good. And who could blame them? After all, the coronavirus pandemic is in its 13th month, and though masks have been shown over and over again to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus, some are simply tired of having to strap them on over their faces.

So, when will it be safe to do so? 

According to the Washington Post, a study conducted on college students at 20 campuses is trying to answer that question. A number of young adults who are eligible for a vaccine have been tasked with delaying getting it so they can help researchers figure out if the vaccine helps prevent the recipients from unknowingly spreading the coronavirus. 

Wrote the newspaper: The study “aims to determine how well the Moderna vaccine prevents vaccinated people from becoming unwitting carriers of the virus. To find an answer, researchers need to run an experiment—and make a big ask of college students: Flip a coin and get the vaccine now, or put off a shot for four months. Only by studying both groups will researchers determine how well vaccines work in stanching the virus’s spread.”

Since the CDC still says fully vaccinated people should wear masks in most public situations, it’s hard to know, without the appropriate data, exactly how much (or how little) they’d spread the virus if they actually caught it. So, a number of college students are helping, even though they know they’ll have to wait several months to protect themselves.

“There were kids … who just broke down,” Dr. Brian L. Stauffer, chief of cardiology at Denver Health Medical Center and one of the leaders of the study at the University of Colorado, told the Post. “One individual sat there, and recovered, and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ … It’s been great to see people participate that way. We frequently don’t give college kids enough benefit of the doubt.”

In case you missed the last blog post, the spotlighted research showed that masks keep you safe in the gym and doesn’t much hinder your performance.

Written by Josh Katzowitz