If video killed the radio star, then masked killed the common cold, at least that’s the gist of it. This notion is a fascinating development because of all that social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing. New data emerging from studies conducted by the Journal of Hospital Medicine over the pandemic’s span indicate the rise of cases as reported at the same time last year.
One of the noted concerns moving forward beyond the pandemic is how to properly distinguish the symptoms of influenza and treat it as such or to test for COVID 19.
Until the population is vaccinated to the limits of public health satisfaction, this common overlap will continue to be a threat to society. For this reason alone, the common consensus is the face mask is no longer a taboo item but instead as seasonal as your scarf or tuque.
Corona Virus is spread through airborne pollutants and or through contact with a contaminated surface, this type of exposure is the same way we can become infected with a flu virus.
Although researchers in the JHM say, the threat of catching Coronavirus is less likely due to contact with a surface than airborne. According to the WHO, the main differentiation between the Influenza and COVID 19 are:
Firstly, COVID-19 and influenza viruses have a similar disease presentation. They both cause respiratory disease, which presents a wide range of illnesses from asymptomatic or mild through to severe illness and death.
Secondly, both viruses are transmitted by contact, droplets and fomites. As a result, the same public health measures, such as hand hygiene and good respiratory etiquette (coughing into your elbow or a tissue and immediately disposing of the tissue), are essential actions all can take to prevent infection.
Against the utter turmoil, the COVID 19 pandemic has been an ironic discovery of efficiency in wearing a face covering and detouring another menace to our society by way of influenza.
I think it is safe to say; we are all fed up with wearing a face mask. However, in hindsight, wearing a face cover might have saved us a lot of grief before now if the stigma behind them wasn’t there.
It’s easy to forget even after this short amount of time, but there was confusion about the motivation to wear a face mask when the pandemic broke. As the public, we didn’t know whether the mask was worn because the person wearing it is the sick party or is the reason the person covering up doesn’t want to get sick from others? It seems so ridiculous now, but that was last year.
Again, in hindsight, this argument surfaced after the debate around wearing a mask was overwhelming, yes, please.
As a westerner, I often glared at other cultures we saw wearing masks, walking down the street without a care in the world. I would look at them and think, “how the heck could you wear that? Fast forward to now, where we see people gasp and run for cover quite literally when we’re made aware of the risk of disease floating all around us at any given time.
At any rate, I think most citizens will want to enjoy the reality of it being an acceptable choice, if not a responsible one, but without a doubt, a choice. Then, after a brief amount of time, we will ideally start to see fewer masks, but there will be many who have the comfort level to continue to wear the protection seasonally at best.
Also, specific public spaces or gathering areas may remain a cover-up zone for rational reasons of safety and common courtesy, pushing back on the choice mandate when we consider the consensus of safety protocol in particular circumstances. So this will be interesting to watch.
Some examples that come to mind are public transit or other public spaces necessary for day-to-day life. Air travel, concerts or more significant sporting events could also be an ongoing concern and reason to mask. We are already seeing instances of a polarized message with the vaccination rollout indicating there are two camps.
One wonders how this might escalate if not attended to promptly. Will we have entire sections at sporting events for non-vaccinated fans, or perhaps those with proof of vaccination won’t get to go to the match at all? There is also discussion among the airline industry to regulate a ‘vaccine passport’ to try and manage customer comfort and keep the struggling sector alive. The passport is one way to ‘adapt or die’ for the hard-hit industry during the pandemic.
The long and short of it will be a mixed bag of people flying with you and varying degrees of vaccinated to not vaccinated. Rest assured, your face mask will be as ordinary as your travel pillow from now on moving forward. So, thinking about it, thanks go to COVID 19 for preventing you from all the other nasty things people catch on airplanes as they inhale the recycled air and touch filthy surfaces.
The Wall Street Journal recently brought light to the question of what happens once the coronavirus pandemic under control and public-health measures lifted?
Dr. Sugaya, of the WHO committee, said he feared the flu could come back with a vengeance, hitting a population whose immunity to flu viruses has ebbed. “We should not let our guard down,” he said. “Seasonal influenza will continue to impact countries every year, and influenza viruses with pandemic potential will continue to emerge,” said a WHO spokesman in an email.
To keep the flu from returning more robust than ever, doctors said people would have to stick to some of the habits they have learned during Covid-19, including frequent hand-sanitizing and mask-wearing. The best protection, though, is a flu shot, said Dr. Naito in Tokyo. “I believe we need both masks and vaccines, but medically speaking, vaccines are more effective than masks,” he said.
To conclude this analysis of the flu and its demise, we know many scientists around the globe will no doubt be collecting data on this trend, and more reports will surface shortly.
It’s nice to think about a world ridden with any potential threat ranging from the common flu bug to the deadly Corona Virus. And while true eradication may seem unlikely, there does seem to be clear evidence to support the face mask is here to stay and the flu is on the way out.