Which mask is best suited to protect cancer patients from a variant of COVID-19?

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When a large number of people catch a virus, it allows variants and mutations to occur – as was the case with the Delta variant of COVID-19, adding even more risk to immunocompromised people, such as those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)).

“Viral variants arise by mutating the genetic material of the virus,” said Daniel Engel, professor of microbiology, immunology and cancer biology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “The overwhelming majority of the time, these mutations do not alter the virus. Mutations are silent. However, extremely rarely will a mutation or a set of mutations occur in the population, which will give the virus a significant advantage over the original virus from which it came. “

Engel was a presenter at the recent CLL Society webinar on protection against COVID-19 and its Delta variant.

Take protective measures against COVID-19 variants

Engel pointed out that the most effective ways to prevent the onset of variants is to reduce infections through public health measures such as vaccination of the population, masking, social distancing and hand washing.

At the start of the webinar – which was aimed at survivors and caregivers – the public conducted a survey related to COVID-19. Five percent said they had COVID-19 at some point, and 98% of the public said they had received the vaccine. Despite these high numbers, only 3% of viewers said they felt “very well protected” from the virus, and 27% felt “protected”.

Webinar moderator Dr Brian Koffman – who is himself a CLL survivor – advised patients to “get vaccinated, but act like you weren’t vaccinated” and continue with such measures. as social distancing and wearing a mask.

Engel agreed, especially since monoclonal antibody therapy and vaccination may be less effective against the Delta variant of COVID-19, although he noted that researchers are working tirelessly to develop better vaccines and new ones. treatments as the virus continues to evolve.

Which mask is the best?

But until then, masking will continue to be vital.

“Based on science, the best mask to wear is an N95 mask. I highly recommend wearing an N95 (because it) offers the best personal protection, and sheet masks don’t provide enough protection. I recommend against them, ”Engel said.

Surgical masks are OK, according to Engel, and KN95 masks are good, but aren’t made to the same standards or offer the same protection as N95 masks, which can easily be ordered on Amazon, Engel said.

All of these measures can not only prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but other variants as well.

“The keys to preventing the occurrence of variants are the same keys to reducing infections,” Engel said.

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