To his credit, Michael Osterholm has been on this beat for some time now. A piece that came out back in July spoke to his concerns about masks. He does not believe that they are useless, though. Osterholm believes that they are one of many tools that we have in our arsenal at the moment. They have a place in our society and do help but they are not the be-all end-all.
His main concern is the sense of false security that the masks create:
“Again, I want to make it very clear that I support the use of cloth face coverings by the general public. I wear one myself on the limited occasions I’m out in public. In areas where face coverings are mandated, I expect the public to follow the mandate and wear them…
[The general public] should be made aware that [cloth] masks may provide some benefit in reducing the risk of virus transmission, but at best it can only be anticipated to be limited. Distancing remains the most important risk reduction action they can take. … The messaging that dominates our COVID-19 discussions right now makes it seem that—if we are wearing cloth masks—you’re not going to infect me and I’m not going to infect you. I worry that many people highly vulnerable to life-threatening COVID-19 will hear this message and make decisions that they otherwise wouldn’t have made about distancing because of an unproven sense of cloth mask security.”
Anyone who has had to have certain conversations with their older relatives can relate to this one. We have already been there with our grandparents. You try your best to look out for them and warn them of the dangers that lie ahead. They end up telling you that they are going to be okay because they wear their mask. That’s all well and good but there are other forms of protection that are needed.
This is the current issue that Osterholm is looking to call attention to. It doesn’t make him a right-winger or an anti-mask nut. A well-fitting mask is only going to filter out 20 to 50 percent of the particles that are in the air. We are now being told that the Delta variant is every bit as transmissible as chickenpox. It is time for a more nuanced position.
Michael Osterholm says "we should be focusing on vaccine, vaccine, and vaccine," and he wants to get rid of the term "masking" because "it implies anything you put in front of your face works." pic.twitter.com/y6LkQE2kCq
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 2, 2021
We are not going to say that masks don’t work and we are not going to say that they are a primary source of protection. This a huge space between these two points of view, which is what Osterholm was driving at during this appearance on CNN. “Michael Osterholm says “we should be focusing on vaccine, vaccine, and vaccine,” and he wants to get rid of the term “masking” because “it implies anything you put in front of your face works,” The Post Millennial shared.
Prior studies from NIOSH show simple cloth mask could cut transmission of flu by 50%. If that is a reasonable benchmark, does CDC believe spread of a strain it says is as contagious as chicken pox can be reduced by up to 60%? To achieve higher risk reduction mask quality matters
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) July 30, 2021
The “masks don’t work” crowd is having a field day with this one but that is the wrong take to have here. At no point does Osterholm make this severe of an argument against them. As we learn more and more about the variants of the virus, we will have to amend the way that we protect ourselves. This should not be a super controversial stance to take but the virus has been politicized since the very beginning.
The main point that needs to be taken away from this interview is that we need higher-quality masks. N95 masks remain the best option for anyone who is looking to remain protected. This has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic and it remains the case now. Hopefully, people are willing to take the right steps going forward.
Now, there are talks of an intranasal vaccine, the type that goes straight up the nose. These vaccines were incredibly successful in animal trials as far as preventing infection, which begs the question…..why was this not the plan from the very beginning? We (as the vaccinated) may have been saved from a great deal of annoyance!