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New study reveals masks ineffective after first Omicron wave, potentially increase risk for children

Summarised by Centrist

A recent study published in PLOS ONE has found that masks were ineffective at reducing the risk of COVID infection after the first Omicron wave, and may even have increased the risk for children during the second wave. 

Researchers examined survey data from 200,000 individuals collected by the UK Office of National Statistics from November 2021 to May 2022. The study, covering multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants, revealed significant changes in risk factors, including mask-wearing.

Before November 2021, consistent mask use was associated with a reduced risk of infection. However, this protective effect appears to have diminished as Omicron became dominant. 

During the first Omicron wave, adults and children not wearing masks had a higher risk of infection—about 30% for adults and 10% for children. By the second wave, driven by the BA.2 subvariant, wearing masks offered no protection for adults and potentially increased infection risk for children.

Lead author Dr Paul Hunter from Norwich Medical School and co-author Julii Brainard suggested that several factors, including widespread vaccination and prior infections, altered the effectiveness of masks. 

They noted that while masks and social distancing provided some protection early in the pandemic, their utility decreased as the virus evolved and the population’s immunity increased.

Read more over at The Epoch Times

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