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CDC director says face masks could present extra safety than coronavirus vaccine

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Face coverings are “essentially the most highly effective public well being device” the nation has in opposition to the coronavirus and may even present higher safety in opposition to it than a vaccine, the pinnacle of the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention instructed lawmakers Wednesday. 

“We’ve clear scientific proof they work and they’re our greatest protection,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield mentioned. “I’d even go as far as to say that this face masks is extra assured to guard me in opposition to Covid than once I take a Covid vaccine.” 

Redfield instructed the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Well being and Human Companies, Schooling, and Associated Businesses {that a} potential coronavirus vaccine, which can probably be obtainable in restricted portions by the tip of this yr, could solely have an immunogenicity of 70%.

Immunogenicity is the flexibility of a vaccine to construct an immune response to the virus. Different prime well being specialists, together with White Home coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have mentioned the chance of manufacturing a extremely efficient Covid-19 vaccine — one that gives 98% or extra assured safety — is slim.

Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments, mentioned in August that scientists are hoping for a vaccine that is at the least 75% efficient. The Meals and Drug Administration mentioned it will authorize a coronavirus vaccine as long as it’s secure and at the least 50% efficient. 

A 50% efficient vaccine could be roughly on par with these for influenza, however beneath the effectiveness of 1 dose of a measles vaccination, which is about 93% efficient, in line with the CDC. 

“If I do not get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to guard me. This face masks will,” Redfield instructed lawmakers whereas holding up a blue surgical face masks. He urged Individuals, significantly these between 18 to 25 years previous, to proceed carrying face coverings, reiterating they may assist convey the pandemic beneath management in a matter of weeks if folks wore them universally. 

The CDC and the World Well being Group now recommend folks put on face coverings to forestall the unfold of the coronavirus, which is unfold by respiratory droplets when an individual coughs, sneezes or talks. The CDC says face masks that cowl the mouth and nostril are “significantly necessary” when folks cannot keep a 6-foot distance from each other. 

Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary for well being on the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies, instructed the lawmakers that carrying a face overlaying “is without doubt one of the most necessary issues we will do to forestall unfold.” That is as a result of people who find themselves contaminated and do not present signs might nonetheless be spreading the virus. 

The feedback got here after Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI, pressed the well being officers on President Donald Trump’s reluctance to put on a face overlaying whereas attending occasions. Trump made the announcement in early April that the CDC had modified its steering in assist of carrying a face overlaying in setting the place social distancing is not possible, however he mentioned, “I do not assume I will be doing it.” In July, after months of reluctance, the president mentioned carrying a face overlaying is “patriotic.”

Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, instructed Reed and lawmakers on the panel that the president “can train his rights to do what he pleases as we see different Individuals doing that.” 

— CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. and Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report. 

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