Wearing face mask and shield as good as getting vaccinated – expert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 5) — With limited COVID-19 vaccines available, an epidemiologist urged the public to continue wearing both face mask and face shield, saying having them on is as good as getting inoculated.

Dr. John Wong of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s sub-technical working group on data analytics said a population that effectively wears face shields on top of masks is 89.9% protected against the coronavirus.

Since it will take time for non-priority groups to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, “the best thing to do is to continue to wear your face masks and face shields,” Wong said in an online media briefing of the Department of Health on Friday.

“They’re as effective as vaccines,” Wong added.

The government requires the wearing of face masks and face shields in public areas, but there have been questions on the need for the latter considering that other countries managed to arrest the spread of COVID-19 without it.

Wong, as well as Dr. Rodley Desmond Carza of the DOH’s health promotion bureau stressed that face shields can prevent further transmission of the virus, which is spread mainly through respiratory droplets from an infected individual.

The country has been seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases after the holiday season. Experts like Wong say that aside from the holidays, the spike now could possibly be driven by the new variants detected in the country. The variants, first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, are believed to be more transmissible and lower the efficacy rate of some vaccines.

Two vaccine brands have officially reached the country – 600,000 doses from Chinese firm Sinovac and nearly half a million shots from the UK-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. These were secured by the country through donations from China and the global COVAX facility.

Malacañang earlier said that since health care workers are top priority in the vaccination program, senior citizens and law enforcers may get their shots by the second quarter when more doses are available.