Mask wearing could help fight against omicron

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from Burnet Institute found the benefits of mask-wearing, by showing that increased mask uptake in Victoria could reduce the duration of epidemic peaks and increase the rate of decline afterward.

They found depending on the uptake, the use of masks between July and October this year could lead to a reduction in cumulative infections and hospital admissions by up to about 20% and deaths by up to 14%.

The team says that the modeling—undertaken in July 2022—is clear in reflecting the benefits of wearing masks, especially indoors.

The modeling also suggests that many infections of the omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants may be going undiagnosed or unreported.

In the study, the team says the modeling from 22 July was used to look backward and help interpret the data by testing theories that could potentially explain the early and significant increase in hospitalizations.

Whereas previously case numbers and hospital numbers tended to rise and fall together, hospital numbers spiked while case numbers steadily increased.

The team says the BA.4 and BA.5 variants are highly immune-evasive, meaning that they get around vaccine or exposure immunity, and they expected there to be a BA.4/BA.5 epidemic wave, given what had been observed overseas.

But hospitalizations increased more sharply than anticipated and one of the reasons is that there were a lot of infections in the community that either hadn’t been diagnosed or hadn’t been reported.

The researchers also think that increased or changed mixing patterns during the school holiday period, timed with the increase in the BA.4/BA.5 variants, may have contributed to that—but more data is required.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about a new drug that could prevent COVID-19, and scientists find antibodies that can neutralize Omicron.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that new air filters could rapidly kill COVID-19, and results showing many people with COVID-19 get deadly ‘black fungus’ disease.

The research was conducted by Dr. Nick Scott et al.

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