Americans could opt to wear masks during flu season, Fauci says | US news

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People could be wearing face masks several years from now in order to avoid the spread of respiratory diseases, according to Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser.

Fauci said people have grown accustomed to wearing masks during the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning they may opt to wear them during seasonal spikes in viruses such as influenza.

Widespread mask wearing in the US has been credited for a huge drop in seasonal flu deaths – just one child is reported to have died from the flu in the most recent flu season, compared with 195 in the autumn and winter of 2019-2020.

“We’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against Covid-19,” Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

“So it is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory-borne diseases.”

Despite strong scientific evidence that wearing masks is highly effective in stopping the spread of diseases like the coronavirus, the issue has become highly politicized in the US, leading to false claims that masks are not useful or are even harmful. An analysis conducted in January showed while the vast majority of Americans think masks are effective, many do not wear them in close contact with others.

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its guidelines on mask wearing, advising that fully vaccinated Americans do not need to don masks while outside, unless in a tightly packed crowd of strangers, such as at a music concert.

More than half of adults in the US have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the CDC, with 43% of the population administered with both doses. Joe Biden has set a goal for 70% of Americans to receive at least one vaccine shot by July to help return some sense of normalcy after a harrowing pandemic that has killed more than 580,000 people in the US.

Fauci said that a return to the normal patterns of life will only be possible if an “overwhelming proportion” of people get vaccinated, a prospect some public health experts have expressed skepticism over given the reluctance of a sizable minority of Americans to getting the shot.

“The larger proportion of the population that’s vaccinated, the less likelihood that a season like the coming fall or winter you’re going to see a significant surge,” Fauci told NBC.

“I hope that next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now. I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Americans could opt to wear masks during flu season, Fauci says | US news

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