Headline, September 30 2020/ ''' '' MASK MUTE MAST '' '''

''' '' MASK MUTE 

MAST '' '''

DESPITE DECADES OF RESEARCH - THE mechanics of airborne transmission largely remain a ''black box,'' said Jyothi Rengarajan, an expert in vaccines and infectious diseases at Emory University in Atlanta.

In crowded settings where masks are in widespread use, infection rates seem to plummet. And although face coverings cannot block all inbound virus particles for all people, they do seem to be linked to less illness.

Researchers have uncovered, largely silent, symptomless outbreaks in venues from cruise ships to food processing plants, all full of mostly masked people.

Data linking dose to symptoms have been gathered for other microbes that attack the human airways, including influenza, viruses and the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

AS THE WORLD AWAITS THE ARRIVAL of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, a team of researchers has come forward with a provocative new theory : that masks might help to crudely immunize some people against the virus.

The unproven idea, described in a commentary published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is inspired by the age-old concept of variolation, the deliberate exposure to a pathogen to generate a protective immune response.

First tried against smallpox, the risky practice eventually fell out of favor, but paved the way for the rise of modern vaccines.

Masked exposures are no substitute for a bona fide vaccine. But data from animals infected with coronavirus, as well as insights gleaned from other diseases, suggest that masks, by cutting down on the number of viruses that encounter a person's airway, might reduce the wearer's chances of getting sick.

And if a small number of pathogens still slip through, the researchers argue, these might prompt the body to produce immune cells that can remember the virus and stick around to fight it off again.

''You can have this virus but be asymptomatic,'' said Dr. Monica Gandhi, the infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco, and one of the commentary's authors.

''So if you can drive up rates of asymptomatic infection with masks, maybe that becomes a way to variolate the population.''

That does not means that people should don a mask to intentionally inoculate themselves with the virus. ''This is not the recommendation at all,'' Dr. Gandhi said. ''Neither are pox parties,'' she added, referring to social gatherings that mingle the healthy and the sick.

The theory cannot be directly proved without the clinical trials that compare the outcomes of people who are masked in the presence of the coronavirus with those who are unmasked - an unethical experimental setup. And while outside experts were intrigued by the theory, they were reluctant to embrace it without more data, and advised careful interpretation.

''It seems like a leap,'' said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist in Arizona, who was not involved in the commentary. ''We don't have a lot to support it.''

Taken the wrong way, the idea could lull the masked into a false sense of complacency, potentially putting them at higher risk than before, or perhaps even bolster the incorrect notion that face coverings are entirely useless against the coronavirus, since they cannot render the wearer impervious to infection.

''We still want people to follow all the other prevention strategies,'' Dr. Popescu said. That means staying vigilant about avoiding crowds, physical distancing and hand hygiene - behaviors that overlap in their effects, but can't replace one another.

The coronavirus variolation theory hinges on two assumptions that are difficult to prove that lower doses of the virus lead to less severe disease, and that mild or asymptomatic infections can spur long-term protection against subsequent bouts of sickness.

Although other pathogens offer some precedent for both concepts, the evidence for the coronavirus remains sparse, in part because scientists have only had the opportunity to study the virus for a few months.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Pandemic and Defenses, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Katherine J. Wu.

With respectful dedication to the Researchers, Scientists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011:

''' Could - Crude '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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