CDC mask guidelines could increase risk of spread of Covid at work and in public, scientists say

The CDC’s new mask guidelines could actually increase the risk of the spread of Covid-19 in public spaces and workplaces, scientists from a leading infectious disease group said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly reversed their mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans last week to say that vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors in most areas. contexts. Officials said they changed their guidelines, in part, because research shows vaccines offer a very high level of protection against Covid-19 disease and its spread to others.

“There is no debate on this fact,” said Dr Jeffrey Duchin, who sits on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, at a press briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America Thursday. The agency’s announcement, however, led to widespread confusion and frustration as “it was unexpected and lacked the necessary context for state and local public health implementation,” a- he declared.

Duchin is the company’s liaison with the CDC vaccination committee. The company represents the leading infectious disease specialists in the United States

“There was no information on how to apply the guidelines in practice, particularly with regard to the inability to verify immunization status,” Duchin said. The CDC also did not provide guidance on whether people should continue to wear masks in areas of high transmission or low vaccination rates, he said. “What the CDC did was suboptimal and led to the mistaken belief that the mask warrants were lifted.”

Doctors across the country and federal health officials continue to stress that only people who have been vaccinated can safely remove their masks. The new mask guidelines have been misinterpreted as an end to the pandemic and mask warrants, putting local health officials in a very difficult position. States across the United States have taken the news as a signal to ease mask mandates. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used the new guidelines to justify signing an executive order that threatens to fine local officials and municipalities that do not waive mask requirements.

Duchin said vaccinated and unvaccinated people are likely safe outside without a mask, but inside are not.

“Now the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased in indoor spaces crowded with unvaccinated people and especially with poor ventilation,” Duchin said. While the CDC’s scientific basis for change “is strong,” Duchin said ending the indoor mask mandate “could lead to increased risk in public spaces and workplaces with preventable Covid-19 se spread mainly among the unvaccinated. “

Vaccination rates vary across the country and the majority of those vaccinated are older adults. Large subgroups, such as young adults, are not vaccinated.

Dr Jeanne Marrazzo, who also spoke at the briefing, said research has shown that up to 3% of Americans have been told by their doctors that they have some level of immunodeficiency, which makes them exposes you to an increased risk of exposure to Covid.

“Millions of people are responding to this bill, and we literally have very little data on the effectiveness of the vaccine,” Marrazzo said. “This is a real reason to be careful and to interpret the guidelines with care.”

Scientists also said people need to recognize that there is uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic, the impact of emerging variants, the duration of immunity and the potential for a resurgence of Covid-19. .

“The Covid-19 epidemic is by no means over, there is still significant uncertainty and there is still significant disease activity,” Duchin said.

If someone is fully vaccinated and doesn’t have other conditions that compromise their community, and if Covid rates are relatively low where they live and vaccination coverage is high, Marrazzo said, it would be 100 % good to go anywhere without a hide. “

Marrazzo added that because vaccination rates are not even at 50% in her community, she will continue to wear a mask indoors, despite being fully vaccinated.

“If I knew that we were seeing really remarkable declines in hospitalizations and symptomatic illnesses possibly related to Covid, and that we had a very high vaccination rate, then I would probably be fine without a mask, but I don’t see that happening. produce anytime very soon, ”she said.

While nearly half of all people in the United States, 160.2 million, have received at least one vaccine, Marrazzo said only 4.6% of the world’s population have done the same.

“People need to be aware of what’s going on and pay attention to vaccination rates, pay attention to the implication of these new variants and think about preparing for some kind of revival,” warned Marrazzo.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the press conference was hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

About Geraldine Higgins

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