Masks Found To Be Ineffective After First Omicron Wave: New Study

According to a new study published in PLOS ONE, which looked at survey data from the UK Office of National Statistics, masks were found to be ineffective after the first Omicron wave.

Masks Found To Be Ineffective After First Omicron Wave: New Study 1

You can read the original article here.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, mask use was advised as a public health precaution to stop the virus from spreading. However, it appears from recent studies that masks did not work to lower the risk of infection once Omicron took over as the predominant form.

Masks Found To Be Ineffective After First Omicron Wave: New Study 2

Researchers discovered in a study published in PLOS ONE that when Omicron emerged as the predominant SARS-CoV-2 variation in December 2021, several infection risk factors, including wearing a mask, altered considerably.

The researchers looked at survey data from the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) from 200,000 people who were tested for COVID-19 every two weeks to help explain why some interventions were linked to a decreased risk of infection early in the pandemic but were less protective or associated with an increased risk later on.

To ascertain whether specific risk factors were connected to positive COVID-19 test results, the ONS interviewed individuals about their lives and habits between November 2021 and May 2022 in addition to releasing data on disease prevalence. Several SARS-CoV-2 variations were seen during this time frame, including the last few weeks of the Delta variant and the Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.2.

The study found that before November 2021, individuals and children who regularly wore masks at work, school, or in confined places had a lower risk of infection; however, this protection did not last when the first wave of Omicron arrived.

“Early in the pandemic, there were many studies published looking at risk factors for catching COVID, but far fewer studies after the first year or so. Our research shows that there were changes in some risk factors around the time the Omicron BA.2 variant became dominant,” lead author Dr. Paul Hunter of Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia, said in a news release.

Changes in Risk Factors May Explain Findings

In an email to The Epoch Times, Julii Brainard, the corresponding author of the study and a senior population health researcher at Norwich Medical School in the UK, clarified that their findings might be explained by the fact that several risk variables had altered over the pandemic.

“Our best guesses and this is a bunch of guesses, is that a few things converged: In the UK by December 2021, most people had had multiple vaccinations and at least one, if not many, wild infections,” Ms. Brainard said.

“When [the] COVID pandemic started, its superpower was that everyone was susceptible to infection. Some people had mild symptoms, many people had a terrible illness that threatened to overwhelm all health services. Social distancing rules and wearing masks didn’t provide perfect protection, but they probably prevented many infections in 2020 and helped to buy time until good vaccines were developed,” she added.

“However, the role of vaccination and repeat wild infections meant that, on average, by early 2022, the average severity of illness was very mild. So mild, in fact, that many people could end up transmitting without knowing they ever had it, and that would include within households; very few people wore masks around housemates. People drop their guard around the other people they have [the] most contact with if they don’t seem ill at least,” she said.

Natural epidemic development, according to Ms. Brainard, may also account for their findings, since subsequent variants infect people differently than earlier ones did. This is evident with the emergence of new diseases. For instance, later variations may increase a disease’s transmissibility or ease of infection, but ultimately cause a milder form of the illness. Furthermore, the virus could impact the respiratory system in several ways.

According to Ms. Brainard, another aspect might be the fact that viruses like SARS-CoV-2 do not permanently impair human immune systems. Because the virus spreads eternally among humans, people may therefore have moderate, recurrent instances of COVID-19 infections for the remainder of their lives.

Masks Only Modestly Reduce Risk

According to Ms. Brainard and her co-author, Dr. Paul Hunter, some people place “way too much faith” in wearing masks, as she stated to The Epoch Times. Their 2020 systematic assessment revealed that masks only marginally lowered the likelihood of transmission of influenza-like infections by roughly 19 percent if both parties—the sick and susceptible—wore masks.

According to Dr. Hunter, the World Health Organization has made repeated references to remarks from 2002 that indicate pharmacological remedies actually shorten epidemics and lower morbidity and mortality rates, while nonpharmaceutical approaches just buy time in an epidemic.

However, she added, there is “plenty to not be surprised about” about the paper’s conclusions. Based on earlier studies, we were already aware of several features of the genesis of epidemics, which shaped our predictions. Epidemics, as far as we know, usually peak and then decline, though they can recur. We also know that populations become resistant to new diseases and that new microbial infections tend to become less harmful and more transmissible over time. She also mentioned that we are aware that respiratory illnesses are extremely contagious and difficult to control, with the majority of transmissions taking place between those who are physically close to one another.

Recently in India, as reported by GreatGameIndia, a study conducted by researchers at Banaras Hindu University and published in Springer Nature found that adolescent girls are at risk of adverse events after receiving Covaxin.

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