The mask that keeps on giving

It was just announced that a third COVID vaccine has been created, this one in Europe, with a rollout expected in weeks to months.  The average American must be breathing a sigh of relief thinking that by getting vaccinated, he can return to his life, or whatever is left from what their government has taken in terms of work, money, or joy.  Well, I hate to tell you, but...not so fast.

Studies on mask usage in the general population have not shown a statistically significant benefit in preventing infection.  But let's be honest: life isn't lived in a bubble, so there probably won't ever be a study that can give a firm conclusion either way.  Then there are those other pesky issues that supplement using a mask such as how far to stand from people (3 feet, 6 feet), how long the virus lives on surfaces (minutes, hours, days); how long it lingers in the air (seconds, minutes); how far it flies in the air from a sneeze or cough (feet, yards); etc.

So you get the vaccine, and you don't develop an allergic reaction or worse such as Guillain-Barre, seizures, etc., and you think, "Now I can get rid of the mask."  Nope.  Why not?

Vaccinations work by priming your immune system through the creation of antibodies.  Should your body subsequently encounter the offending organism, a virus in this case, your immune system hopefully subdues it, thereby preventing illness.  Some people, despite being vaccinated, don't develop antibodies.  Always a buzzkill in the crowd, you're thinking.  

If enough people are vaccinated, the unvaccinated, or those who don't develop antibodies, have much less chance of encountering a person harboring the organism and therefore are considered protected (known as herd immunity, protection by the herd of vaccinated individuals).  This relies on a stable herd of people around the unvaccinated.  Asking where unvaccinated illegal aliens fit into this scenario is asking for trouble, so better not to ask.

What do you mean, I got the vaccine, but I'm still told to wear the mask?  Well, there are a few issues that remain to be addressed.  It takes time for the critical mass of the 330 million Americans to get this vaccine.  How much time?  When was the last time 300 million Americans were vaccinated?  It takes months for fewer than half as many to get a flu vaccine.  What's the critical mass needed?  Truthfully, no one knows.  It will be an extrapolation from other vaccination programs.  Also keep in mind that viruses are known to mutate.  Will it mutate like influenza, requiring periodic immunization and therefore forcing us back to square one?  Okay, everyone, time to mask up again!  

So until we reach what is considered the optimum level to achieve herd immunity, you will be required to continue wearing that mask.  But why? you ask again.  Because immunization protects those immunized only from becoming sick.  You can still be exposed to the coronavirus and therefore pass it on to those not immunized.  Keep in mind that we've been told for months to quarantine if "exposed."  Is that concept to suddenly disappear?  Until hundreds of millions of us are immunized, this concept of exposure should logically remain in force, if nothing else, in order to be consistent.

Much of what has been forced upon us by politicians and health departments reflects less medical science based on carefully crafted studies and more social science based on the best that socialist and fascist "thought" leaders have fine-tuned over many years.  It's the merging of pseudoscience and social control — a dystopian novel come to life.

Image: Pixabay JC Cards.