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This year, Covaxin and Covishield vaccines were authorized for use in India. Information about COVID-19 vaccines is exciting and continues to emerge, yet the risk of such vaccines giving people a false sense of security is serious. So if you think that after you receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you won't have to worry about wearing a mask or social distancing, think again.
Recently, 37 doctors of a Delhi hospital tested positive for COVID-19, despite most of them taking both doses of the vaccine. Ever since, it has become even more difficult to ascertain the efficacy of vaccines. What’s more, the virus is constantly mutating due to which there are a lot of cases of re-infection in spite of people having antibodies. Additionally, while getting vaccinated is surely a huge step in the direction developing resistance from the virus, it is important to know that as long as you are below herd immunity, the virus is still circulating in the population.
With the COVID-19 vaccine, socializing will surely become easier, but being in large groups or travelling, when there is no way to know if the people around you have been vaccinated, will always remain risky.Without travel restrictions, for example, a vaccinated individual introducing new cases to countries without immediate vaccine accessibility is a possible scenario.Also, not all of us will be vaccinated simultaneously as certain groups such as children are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine.
Theoretically, a vaccine should stop the infection as well as the transmission and spread. The Pfizer vaccine, for example, is considered 95% effective about a week after the second dose- a time span of about a month in all. However what we won’t know for months, or even longer, is whether the vaccines protect against asymptomatic infection and whether they stop virus transmission. Multiple new variants of the virus have recently emerged which the vaccines were not designed to target. Therefore, we do not know whether vaccinated people are also protected from infection with one of the variants now circulating around the world.
That being said, the vaccine is probably the most important tool we have right now in controlling this pandemic, but it is not perfect and it is not a magic bullet that can end this for good right away. Not everyone can get vaccinated, not everyone will get vaccinated, and we're still learning about the vaccination, so everything else we've been doing all along is still so important.
The protection offered by vaccines is close to 80-90%. But can we increase that to closer to 100% by wearing a mask? Yes. A good quality fitted mask with high (>95%) viral filtration efficiency is the only real and effective barrier against COVID-19. Therefore, until all our vaccine related questions are answered and we achieve wider vaccination for the majority of the population, it is imperative that each one of us wears a mask and avoids crowds even after getting our two jabs to avoid spreading the virus to other people.
What we need for massive adoption of mask wearing behaviour are masks that offer the perfect mix of fashion and function. Our brand of Airific masks are tested by Nelson Labs, USA with an extremely high ‘capture index,’ >96% viral filtration efficiency (for particles at 0.1 microns) and the lowest inhalation and exhalation breathing resistance in its league. They are also reusable and meet and exceed all the recommendations of the WHO and CDC for protective facemasks.
To conclude, a mask is our most important weapon in our fight against the pandemic; let’s not be careless and let’s work together to prevent another outbreak.