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Masks: Consider them a sign of progress in the fight against COVID

20 Comments

"Will we be able to take off our masks at some point within this year?" That's the question raised by Tohoku University Pprofessor Ken Osaka in Weekly Playboy (Jan 24).

For a brief period, it looked like humanity was actually making headway against the worldwide COVID pandemic. Certainly one of the most visible indicators that the corner had been turned would be that more people could go out in public without the need to wear masks.

"I can well understand that sentiment," says Osaka, a member of the health ministry's task force on cluster infections. "But unfortunately with the emergence of the new Omicron variant, there's a strong likelihood this won't be happening anytime soon."

"Since last summer, when we were dealing with the 5th wave of the virus, the situation in Japan seemed almost miraculously to have eased," he continues. "The reasons for this included our suppressing the major risk factors, and after initially lagging behind other parts of the world in immunizations, we achieved one of the world's highest levels -- about 80% of the population, including children."

Osaka says the vaccines were effective in a number of ways: They prevented infection, and among those who were infected, they worked to prevent sickness or severe cases.

"But we now realize that after six months passed since receiving their second jab, people's immunity began to wane," he said.

It was this letting down of their guard, along with the easier transmissibility of the Omicron variant, that led to the sharp uptick of cases in Europe and North America.

Osaka feels that Japan's delay in receiving jabs initially worked to its advantage, but as the vaccines near their "expiration dates," the Omicron variant will run rampant and rapidly supplant its Delta predecessor, just as it did in the UK and the United States.

As evidence of this, Osaka points to the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus on U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

"Japanese should not make the mistake of thinking Japan will be alright because it made it past the fifth wave; the next one might be even worse," he predicts.

So to answer the question, are we indeed approaching the point where we can start taking off our masks?

"We don't clearly understand the risks posed by the Omicron variant," Osaka says. "The prevailing view of experts is that there's no guarantee that anyone who contracts it will suffer only mild symptoms."

"Even though 80% of the population has received two jabs, the 20% who have not still come to around 20 million individuals, and for them to remove their masks when they go out in public would, at some point, threaten the collapse of the medical system," he added.

In the next wave, moreover, the government's pressuring food and beverage businesses, etc, to reduce their hours again isn't likely to work. So what defenses will that leave us with? Masks, ventilation and vaccinations -- in other words, no change from before. So at the very least it will be important to stick with these, along with people seeking a test as soon as they feel ill, and to reduce the size of audiences at events.

If we continue to make incremental efforts to minimize the sixth wave while monitoring the infection situation, the magazine concludes, we'll move one step closer to the day when our masks can be taken off. But when will this happen? It's too soon to say.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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but as the vaccines near their "expiration dates," 

"Expiration dates" on vaccines (they put the quotes, not me)

I a few months they'll claim that the expiration dates have always been there and it'll be misinformation to say otherwise.

But we now realize that after six months passed since receiving their second jab, people's immunity began to wane,

His use of the term "but now we realize" shows he's admitting to the narrative shift.

If the narrative is always shifting, why should I believe the one that is being peddled today.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

In other words the vaccines did not work and finally they have started to accept it. I'm so glad I was not duped into getting the jab, the false promises of an unmasked life almost made fall for it.

-4 ( +12 / -16 )

Michael Yeadon ex CEO and chief chemist for Phizer has stated more than once that masks do not work against viruses. You would think that he would know better than professors, most ordinary academics, doctors,politicians, Dr Fauci who has never treated anyone but is deeply involved with the production of these so called vaccines. There are many other experts in the field of virus research who will tell you the same about masks. Didn't Fauci tell everyone if they got vaxxed they would not need masks ? Too many people getting paranoid over some virus with a 99.8 percent recovery rate.

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Dr Fauci who has never treated anyone

Nope, not true. He did an internship and then a two year residency in Internal Medicine at New York Hospital - Cornell Medical Center, now called Weill Cornell Medical Center. He would have treated thousands of patients in that time.

Michael Yeadon ex CEO and chief chemist for Phizer has stated more than once that masks do not work against viruses

This is a misrepresentation. A simple surgical mask does stop all virus in the air from passing through to the wearer. N95 masks however do. What a surgical mask is very good at is stopping the germs of the wearer from going past the mask and into the atmosphere. The benefit of wearing a mask is it prevents you from infecting others. You wear a mask out of consideration for others and as a measure to stop the spread of the disease.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

In other words the vaccines did not work and finally they have started to accept it. I'm so glad I was not duped into getting the jab, the false promises of an unmasked life almost made fall for it.

You are misunderstanding the data. You are about seven times more likely to contract Covid-19 if you are unvaccinated than if you are, and the symptoms for vaccinated people are milder. No vaccine is ever 100% effective. Degrees of immunity vary between individuals kind of on a sliding scale, but overall the vaccine greatly reduces your chances of becoming infected. Not 100%, nothing is, but much better than nothing.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Michael Yeadon ex CEO and chief chemist for Phizer has stated more than once that masks do not work against viruses. You would think that he would know better than professors, most ordinary academics, doctors,politicians

So you don't share the views of his former colleagues at Pfizer who had this to say to him:

We have become acutely aware of your views on COVID-19 over the last few months … the single mindedness, lack of scientific rigour and one sided interpretation of often poor quality data is far removed from the Mike Yeadon we so respected and enjoyed working with.

Bt the way, he was not CEO but a vice president.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

It's an airborne virus. The standard in Germany is N95 masks only. This should be the world standard. Everything else can be argued until everyone is blue in the face. Stay safe, stay strong and Mask Up to live long...

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

when so called "hoaxes" became reality.

vaccines does not solve covid issue and not helping to stop spreading of virus.

face masks same thing.may reduce infection as same if you are close to someone who get normal cold.

pls accept reality that whole vaccination circuss was just nice business chance for a few get over rich.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

face masks same thing.may reduce infection as same if you are close to someone who get normal cold.

Surgical face masks prevent the wearer who is infected and possibly unaware of it because they have no symptoms from spreading their infection to others. An N95 mask will stop virus in the air from infecting the wearer.

vaccines does not solve covid issue and not helping to stop spreading of virus.

Unvaccinated people are about seven times more likely to contract Covid-19 than unvaccinated people. That so many people stubbornly remain unvaccinated makes it impossible to claim with accuracy that vaccines do not solve covid issues. If there was universal vaccination one could assess the veracity of that claim. Instead you claim vaccines don't work when a large minority of people are not yet vaccinated.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"We don't clearly understand the risks posed by the Omicron variant," Osaka says. "The prevailing view of experts is that there's no guarantee that anyone who contracts it will suffer only mild symptoms."

We do, we actually already know the Pathogenesis of the virus and why it causes less serious infections, and why it has been declared by experts as the variant that could end the pandemic.

But these people will continue for as long as posible to pretend that we "still do not know enough" about omicron, other than "it is scary"

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I a few months they'll claim that the expiration dates have always been there and it'll be misinformation to say otherwise.

From the very beginning the experts clearly announced that variants could make immunity (including from natural infection) have a decrease efficacy, pretending not to know this is not believable at this point.

In other words the vaccines did not work and finally they have started to accept it. 

Misrepresenting the situation is another invalid argument, vaccines work and very nicely, but variants reduce the efficacy of acquired immunity, nobody ever guaranteed the vaccines against any and all possible variants.

Michael Yeadon ex CEO and chief chemist for Phizer has stated more than once that masks do not work against viruses.

And he is wrong, demonstrably by experimental and epidemiological evidence, names or credentials are irrelevant when contradicted by scientific evidence. Only deeply antiscientific people could think otherwise.

You would think that he would know better than professors, most ordinary academics, doctors,politicians,

Yes, you would think that, but failing to acknowledge the evidence that contradicts him makes it obvious he does not.

It's an airborne virus. The standard in Germany is N95 masks only.

This is not a 100 or 0 efficiency situation. N95 or equivalents are the best you can practically have and people are safer with them, but even 3ply masks have their role and can help decreasing the risk.

We do, we actually already know the Pathogenesis of the virus and why it causes less serious infections, and why it has been declared by experts as the variant that could end the pandemic.

That does nothing to contradict what you quote. A virus can be less pathogenic but still represent important risks for public health by upsetting the balance between transmissibility and the measures in place to control its spreading. This is what happened with Delta in Japan, that was not more pathogenic than the previous strains, but still managed to put the public health system in trouble just because its increased transmissibility. Unless you have a complete characterization of the transmission and its effects on a specific population it is completely valid to say there could still be hidden risks worth considering until more evidence allows the experts to discard them.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Yeah I totally stopped wearing masks a year ago. I still keep them on my person but won’t wear one unless specifically asked. If you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die. Might as well be comfortable.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

@Gaijinland

Yeah I totally stopped wearing masks a year ago. I still keep them on my person but won’t wear one unless specifically asked. If you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die. Might as well be comfortable.

Exactly.

Same here.

Have one in car just in case if someone will ask to wear.

Thats it.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

for me, mask on when in public transportation, supermarkets, crowded places, common areas in office, restaurants before and after eating. Mask off when out jogging, cycling, walking for fitness purposes, at home. Mask off time has been more than mask on time so I am fine with it. I would wear mask more during kafun season, ie from early March to mid May.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well, as a Trump supporter, no one here can convince me that these here masks do any good...I mean, it's not like they wear masks when they do surgery on anything....

And who's afraid of a little virus...

On the other hand, I always wear my Doc Martens when I go out because you never know when you may step on a nail...

And I never leave home without my tactical vest - lots of crazy people with guns out there...

Protect yourself people - except from viruses that are 20 times more likely to kill you...

Welcome to MAGA-world....

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"Japanese should not make the mistake of thinking Japan will be alright because it made it past the fifth wave; the next one might be even worse," he predicts.

That's not a prediction, that's conjecture.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well, as a Trump supporter, no one here can convince me that these here masks do any good...I mean, it's not like they wear masks when they do surgery on anything....

And who's afraid of a little virus...

On the other hand, I always wear my Doc Martens when I go out because you never know when you may step on a nail...

And I never leave home without my tactical vest - lots of crazy people with guns out there...

Protect yourself people - except from viruses that are 20 times more likely to kill you...

What?

Yeah I totally stopped wearing masks a year ago. I still keep them on my person but won’t wear one unless specifically asked. If you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die. Might as well be comfortable.

Bingo! I agree.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

This should be a common sense issue but sadly common sense is a thing of the past.

Wear a mask when in close contact with others, for example on a train or in a shop. But not needed when in the open, riding a bicycle or walking to the station. no need to be paranoid or a super spreader.

And remember, its not just about you. Its just a "cold" for you and me but not for the person in the seat next to you's grandmother.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hard to believe we've been wearing these blasted things for 2 years now. I only wear them when I'm indoors in a public place (grocery stores, mall, restaurants etc.), on public transport, and I wear them at work because we're mandated to. However, if I'm out for a jaunt, walking to the station etc. I don't bother, especially in the summer because it's literally like being suffocated.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Never met an antivaxer, must be real funny if they actually speak their minds like in the forums.

2 years into the pandemic still unable to grasp how masks works, and they're actually proud lol

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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