The World Health Organization’s decision to encourage those who are fully vaccinated to wear masks as a result of the highly transmissible Delta variant is "a good idea," according to University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix’s Dr. Shad Marvasti.
“We don’t want to wait until after the fact and get caught with this thing already ahead of us when we know that masks work,” Marvasti told Yahoo Finance Live. “To put this in context, the Alpha variant, which originated out of the UK, was about 50% more infectious and transmissible. The Delta variant is 60% more infectious than that.”
The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, has now spread to more than 80 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials warn it will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. in a matter of weeks as infections attributable to the highly contagious variant spread rapidly nationwide. COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant currently account for about one-fifth of new coronavirus infections in the U.S., according to the CDC.
“The CDC needs to act quickly, without waiting, to follow the WHO guidelines and ask everyone to put the masks back on so we can stay open, protect folks, and keep the economy going,” Marvasti said. “We’re already seeing preliminary numbers out of Israel where fully vaccinated people are getting sick.”
Preliminary findings by Israeli health officials found that about half of adults infected by the Delta variant in the country were fully vaccinated, the Wall Street Journal reported, and as it stands now, the Delta variant is likely causing about 90% of new infections in Israel.
Outbreaks of infections largely driven by the Delta variant have prompted governments from around the world to reimpose coronavirus-related restrictions. South Africa is imposing at least two weeks of lockdowns while about 10 million Australians are also under lockdown. Here in the U.S., Los Angeles County officials are urging all residents to wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
“We have gotten into this false sense of security thinking it's okay to take off masks,” warned Marvasti. “The best thing to do is to start putting the masks back on to prevent another surge from happening, and if you’re unvaccinated, now is the time to get vaccinated before this Delta variant comes for you.”