(Lubbock, USA)—Vaccines, social distancing, and face masks (VSF) are important tools in the toolkit to wage the war against COVID-19.

Face masks are indeed one of the best precursors to nation-wide vaccination programs.

In the United States, while the vaccination program was progressing, until reaching a manageable number of daily COVID-19 cases, mask mandates and other restrictions were in place in different States. According to the United States’ CDC, 140.4 million people have been fully vaccinated. As 53% of population aged 18 and above have been fully vaccinated in the United States, States have been relaxing restrictions. However, in countries, where vaccination levels are low and new variants are emerging, COVID-19 protocols are needed. Localized restrictions are proving to be effective in lowering the daily increase in cases.

As India is facing a severe second wave of COVID-19, while vaccines are panacea, until huge populace is vaccinated, protective measures are needed. On June 7th, Indian Prime Minister Honorable Narendra Modi addressed the nation highlighting the steps towards vaccination, while advising people to wear masks and follow the protocols. Indian government will be handling the vaccination program centrally and would distribute vaccines to States for immunizing people aged 18 years and above, free of cost. Such central procurement and distribution by local authorities have worked well in the United States.

In regions where population density is high, use of face masks and other protocols help until vaccination level reaches about 60-70 percent. Reaching such a threshold will enable the risk to be manageable, stated Dr. Craig Barker, MD., Corporate Medical Director, UMC Physicians, Lubbock, USA.

As there are reports of the emergence of the delta variant in India, which is known to be more contagious, use of face masks, physical distancing and avoiding gatherings will limit the spread. Using face masks and practicing hygiene will help with borrowing time to gear-up vaccination.

India’s PPE sector is well positioned to develop necessary protective equipment as this Industry has been building its base in the past two decades (https://today.ttu.edu/posts/2021/06/Stories/saving-lives-indias-technical-textile-revolution-paved-way-for-covid-19-response).

Particularly regarding India, as major cities like Mumbai and New Delhi are opening-up their economy, until there is wide availability of vaccines, countermeasures such as face masks are important. Face masks limit the number of microbes leaving the body and help with preventing the spread, stated Dr. Barker.

Our recent research has shown that countermeasures like using face masks reduced the number of COVID-19 cases (https://today.ttu.edu/posts/2021/04/Stories/mask-mandates-reduced-covid19-in-states).

Following hygiene protocols will limit the spread of the corona virus and will play a major role in saving lives.

By: 

Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University