by Seshadri Ramkumar
Vaccinations and other countermeasures such as face masks and physical distancing are critical to conquer the pandemic, as indicated by the second pandemic wave ravaging India. A single day recently saw 352,991 new cases, making it a global record since the beginning of the pandemic.
Global infectious disease experts emphasize the importance of swift vaccination and mass vaccination of about 70-80 percent of the population in order to reach herd immunity. While it may take a few months to achieve this level of vaccination, it is important that people use face masks and practice maximum safety.
“Right now, the virus is still winning and hence public health measures such as hygiene and face coverings are important,” says Dr. Manickavasagam Sundaram, Dept. of Medicine, Lakeridge Health, Oshawa, Canada. Even with the availability of vaccines in some nations, there is an issue with vaccine hesitancy and the emergence of new variants, which emphasize the importance of safety precautions, added Dr. Sundaram.
Recently, research carried out in the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University showed that face masks helped to curtail the COVID-19 spread in states where a face mask mandate was in effect. Results showed that 63 percent of the states saw a decrease in daily and cumulative cases 21 days after the mandates began, and 66 percent saw a reduction after 28 days.
“I believe proper wearing of face coverings, in addition to other mitigation measures, can help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, the fit of the face coverings is important,” says James Ayodeji, researcher involved in Texas Tech’s face mask project.
Fiber scientists and textile chemists have a greater role to play in developing highly efficient personnel protective equipment. Much research is needed to understand the effect of fibers such as cotton and blends, as well as the structure of masks, on viral barrier and protection capabilities.
Recent safety lax in India has been widely recognized as the reason for the surge in that country. “Given the large population to be vaccinated in India, social distancing and correct use of masks need to be strictly enforced. This will help while the nation is gearing up the vaccination,” says Mumbai-based Dilip Raghavan, editor of Colourage.
Raghavan adds that a sense of complacency kicked in between the end of the first surge and the beginning of the current one, with the results being witnessed now. “