What to Know About New COVID Strains, Double-Masking

With COVID-19 vaccines in the arms of thousands of Illinois residents, hopefully there’s a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

But with reports of new strains of the virus circulating, it’s as important now as ever to stay protected. Illinois has identified at least nine cases of a COVID-19 variant.

“The new strains of COVID appear to be a global problem and could potentially affect the US,” said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Hospital’s medical director of infection control and prevention. “The concern that we’re all having is could this affect immunity to past infections, could it affect immunity generated from the vaccines?”

Three Major Variants

New major strains have been identified in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. And while there is still testing being done on each one, Dr. Pinsky said it appears that the vaccines are fully effective against the UK variant and partially effective against the other two.

“Even if there is a mutation the vaccine should still provide protection,” he said. “And most importantly, the studies have shown that even if there is decreased activity, it does prevent severe illness and hospitalization.”

Double-Masking?

Some health experts have also begun suggesting “double-masking” as a way to add more protection. Dr. Pinsky said different masks have different strengths, so doubling up can help.

“In terms of protection, the cloth masks may not have enough barrier so it’s recommended to have several layers if you have a cloth mask. You can have a filter,” said Dr. Pinsky. “The surgical masks are much better protection but sometimes the fit isn’t exactly right so some people want to wear a double mask or other things like that.”

Because the mask protects others from you, it’s more important that everyone wears at least one than for some to double up.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

 

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