Clinical Public Health

Period. 15 - 21 September 2020

A new paper in the New England Journal of Medicine provides further support for the use of face masks by suggesting that universal masking may be a way to sharply reduce asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. The theory is inspired by variolation, an inoculation concept first developed to vaccinate against smallpox, where an individual is exposed to material worn by an infected person with the aim of prompting a mild infection. The hypothesis with respect to COVID-19 is that masks provide protection against the majority of infectious material, but if some viral matter were to pass through, it would likely be low enough for the body to develop an immune response. At this point, the theory remains only theoretical, as one respiratory scientist suggests variolation could be feasible as the body reacts to low levels of airborne COVID-19 which should incite an immune response.

This development is part of the digest;