We’re all looking forward to the Covid-19 vaccines in the hope of life returning to normal. But even with the vaccines, we’ll still need to wear masks, says physician and biodefense expert,Dr. Mark Kortepeter.
Kortepeter has dealt with epidemics in many different parts of the world and says we won’t be taking off our masks anytime soon. Here are five reasons why.
Even with the help of military logistics, a safely demonstrated vaccine cannot be distributed evenly across the country right away. Vaccines often require freezing cold temperatures as low as minus 80 degrees Celcius, in both storage and transportation. This in itself poses quite a challenge because if the vaccine thaws it loses its effectiveness and hence its purpose.
Everyone cannot be vaccinated all at once anyway. People receiving vaccines will be prioritized according to their age and medical conditions, and those who are less vulnerable will have to wait longer.
Also, some vaccines require a couple of boosters to maximize protection, which is to say people will need another shot after a given period. And there won’t be a way of knowing which phase of vaccination an individual is in, or just how safe they are to be around.
And this is just one reason why only part of the country will be considered effectively vaccinated. We have yet to consider the large proportion of the American population that simply refuses to invest in vaccines.
The vaccines will need to run their course for us to understand which ones are effective and on what percentage of the population. Some vaccines will be more effective than others.
The FDA has declared that a licensed vaccine will have to prove to be at least 50% effective. That is to say, it must prove its protection on 50% of the individuals it is used on.
Developing the vaccines means we need to learn and understand their range of protection, which takes time. In the meanwhile, we will have to remain cautious and wear masks.
Since the vaccines are coming out early enough to not have their longevity be tested, we won’t know precisely how long they will keep us safe. It could take from a few months to a few years and we’ll still have to learn if any boosters are required to maintain protection.
We know that there have been cases where people have been infected with Covid-19 twice. These cases of re-infection have resulted from exposure to a different strain of the virus. As the quarantine routine loosens and people start traveling, within the country or abroad, the chances of exposure to newer viral strains increases.
Plus as the virus continues to develop and evolve, we won’t know how long the vaccines will remain effective enough to combat it.
Sowhen will it be safe for us to take our masks off?
Kortepeter says that is only possible when the viral spread in our communities has considerably shrunken down.“Until then we mask on”!