Use of Masks Reduces Severity of Covid-19 Infections and Builds Immunity!

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Shuvomoy Banerjee, PhD; Neucrad Health desk, September 16, 2020

SARS-Cov-2 are highly transmissible and that’s why World Health Organization (WHO) issued strict instructions for wearing facial masks outside home, on streets, on public transport, inside shops, offices, academic and health facilities from the very beginning. This measure proved very effective in reducing the otherwise escalating incidences of Novel Coronavirus infections as well as in preventing new infections.

A recent study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people who followed proper rules of facial masks, sanitizers and social distance during this pandemic has significantly lower rates of infection than those who did not.

We already know that the use of masks plays a vital role in counteracting the effects of novel corona virus. Firstly, facial masks act as an artificial “physical barrier”, as SARS-CoV-2 infected person’s viral shedding (or respiratory aerosols) from mouth or nose (through sneezing and coughing) cannot enter the body of a person wearing the mask directly. Secondly, 80% of people in this world are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic for Covid-19, hence, facial masks seems a better option to prevent transmission from such asymptomatic people.

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Interestingly, a latest research reports came from Dr. Monica Gandhi and George W. Rutherford from the University of California (San Francisco, USA) who have scientifically shown that the use of masks:

  1. Not only prevents further spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections, but also
  2. Significantly reduces the severity of the disease in patients with acute Covid-19 symptoms. Explaining the reason for this, they said that the severity of viral infectious diseases is proportional to the number of infectious viruses (Inoculum). Therefore, the higher the number of viruses means greater severity of the disease.
  3. However, the most surprising report was that the use of facial masks aids in the development of anti-Covid-19 immunity in the asymptomatic people! According to those Scientists, when wearing a mask majority of the viral aerosols floating in the air get stuck outside the mask and very little of it enters the body. This very less number of viruses enters the body, slowly develop immunity against SARS-CoV-2, but do not exhibit symptoms of Covid-19. Interestingly, this phenomena can be compared with old days “Variolation” process which was practiced before the discovery of Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine. Scientists also added that there might be some possibilities for developing strong T-lymphocyte mediated immune response in Covid-19 positive asymptomatic individuals but need further investigation to establish the hypothesis. 

The research team conducted this study on animal models and performed Covid-19 epidemiological studies. They have published this interesting and novel research work in “New England Journal of Medicine“.

Henceforth, as long as the vaccine is not available, it is possible to control the severity of Covid-19 infections by using appropriate facial masks. Moreover, leading Scientists and Researchers believe that widespread use of masks among the population can prevent community infections.

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References:

  1. Gandhi M, Rutherford GW. Facial Masking for Covid-19 – Potential for “Variolation” as We Await a Vaccine [published online ahead of print, 2020 Sep 8]. N Engl J Med. 2020;10.1056/NEJMp2026913. doi:10.1056/NEJMp2026913
  2. Dinc G, Ulman YI. The introduction of variolation ‘A La Turca’ to the West by Lady Mary Montagu and Turkey’s contribution to this. Vaccine. 2007;25(21):4261-4265. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.02.076
  3. Begum J, Mir NA, Dev K, Buyamayum B, Wani MY, Raza M. Challenges and prospects of COVID-19 vaccine development based on the progress made in SARS and MERS vaccine development [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 20]. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2020;10.1111/tbed.13804. doi:10.1111/tbed.13804
  4. Pereira M, Paixão E, Trajman A, et al. The need for fast-track, high-quality and low-cost studies about the role of the BCG vaccine in the fight against COVID-19. Respir Res. 2020;21(1):178. Published 2020 Jul 11. doi:10.1186/s12931-020-01439-4
  5. Feng S, Shen C, Xia N, Song W, Fan M, Cowling BJ. Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Respir Med. 2020;8(5):434-436. doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30134-X
  6. Tirupathi R, Bharathidasan K, Palabindala V, Salim SA, Al-Tawfiq JA. Comprehensive review of mask utility and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infez Med. 2020;28(suppl 1):57-63.
  7. Cheng VC, Wong SC, Chuang VW, et al. The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2. J Infect. 2020;81(1):107-114. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.04.024
  8. Sunjaya AP, Jenkins C. Rationale for universal face masks in public against COVID-19. Respirology. 2020;25(7):678-679. doi:10.1111/resp.13834

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