KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Individuals vaccinated against Covid-19 still need to wear a face mask, amid the emergence of new strains of the virus, said an infectious disease expert.
Multiple coronavirus variants are emerging globally in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, as well as California and New York City in the United States.
Approved vaccines are less effective against the new strains, particularly the South African variant, leading vaccine developers to start testing booster shots of their vaccines, CNBC reported.
“Yes, they still need to wear their mask for now as you know the vaccine looks like it’s very effective, but we still need two doses for its whole effectiveness based on the recommendation,” Dr Sasheela Sri La Sri Ponnampalavanar from University Malaya told a recent webinar organised by the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR) on “Infection Prevention and Control in Covid-19 Wards”.
“With the new strains coming in, the slight mutations, there’s always a chance of being reinfected or infected so though the risk is low, there’s still a chance.
“So, we still need to wear our mask, especially if we are in a confined area and unable to maintain the distance with somebody else,” the infectious disease expert from UM said.
As of March 17, a total of 367,213 individuals have been vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently told a press conference that all those inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine should still adhere to standard operating procedures, including wearing a face mask and maintaining social distancing as there simply isn’t enough data on protection from transmission of the coronavirus yet.
Preliminary real-world data from Israel, which has vaccinated more than half of adult residents, showed that people who received the jab did not develop symptoms or transmit Covid-19 disease.
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance for fully vaccinated people, who can gather with other inoculated people inside a home without wearing face masks or physical distancing. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people with low-risk for severe Covid-19 in the same circumstances.
However, the CDC recommended that fully inoculated individuals continue to wear face masks and practice physical distancing in public, besides avoiding medium and large gatherings.