The World Health Organization says that even those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should “play it safe” by continuing to wear face masks.
According to Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission” of the virus. This leaves the tens of millions of Americans who took the shot expecting that it would equate with them getting back to normal life sorely disappointed.
According to Simao, the delta (Indian) variant of COVID circulating the globe means that mask mandates and social distancing should continue indefinitely. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing,” she said.
Given that there are likely to be new variants of COVID for years to come, this essentially means that facial coverings and social distancing rules will not fully end at any point in the near future, despite many European governments slowly beginning to lift restrictions.
The WHO issued the guidance despite a British study finding that vaccines were “highly effective” against the delta variant.