Jamshedpur: Masks, the simple contrivance, that everyone wears these days, may ultimately be saving lives.
Dr. Monika Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco, has done an extensive research on different facets of Corona Virus outbreak. And she is of the view that masks not only protect others, as was understood by most till date, but also the wearer.
Earlier too, in a research published, Monica Gandhi and Diane Havlir had called for universal masking of the public as data suggest that masks not only protect others, but also help in reducing the number of viruses encountered by the body.
Dr Monica Gandhi’s data suggest less virus means less sickness and more chances of one being asymptomatic.
Her research indicates, it may not protect one from that ‘one virus’. But even if it protects one from a heavy load of viruses and reduces the number of viruses entering one’s body, one may get protection as there are chances that he or she may turn ‘asymptomatic’.
Now that laborious researches on different aspects of Corona virus are throwing up results slowly, interesting outcomes are being noted by researchers.
One of these of particular interest is the case of a study done on two cruise ships. In one cruise ship masks were not used and the virus possibly floated freely. On that ship 47 percent of those tested were found to be asymptomatic. But, on another cruise ship, where the outbreak was encountered with surgical masks and surgical masks were used by all passengers as well as the crew, 81 percent of the people were asymptomatic.
This trend was seen at many other places too, including a paediatric dialysis unit, a seafood plant and a hair salon.
The researches have found that in countries like Singapore, Vietnam and Czech Republic, which had gone for population-level masking, people did get infected, but the ratio of deaths was quite lower.
And it has been a scientific fact: being exposed to one virus is less inimical than being exposed to millions of copies of the same virus.
ID50 is the key differentiator. ID50 denotes that dose of the virus where 50 percent of the people may become infected.
The ID50 of Coronavirus is still not known. But it is medically recognised that being exposed to lower doses of virus makes one less sick and higher doses makes one more sick.
So, those who are covered with mask may have milder cases compared to those who are not covered.
In an article published this month, researchers have noted that in some cases, early in the pandemic, when not too many wore masks, the ratio of asymptomatic cases were only 15 percent. But, once, the people started wearing masks, the ratio of asymptomatic people reached up to 40 to 45 percent.
So, masks are not only for protecting others. They also protect the wearer, from getting higher loads of infecting viruses.
In conclusion, the researchers say: “We strongly endorse universal public masking in the United States for crowded indoor or public spaces, including supermarkets, public gatherings and in close workplaces.”
They go on: “This recommendation does not replace our population-level, public health approaches, including social distancing in the short term, but it does serve as an adjunct, with the hope that we will be able to relax such measures as transmissions slows.“
Dr Monika Gandhi’s detailed views can be listened to on this podcast:
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