Brace for TWO YEARS of mask-wearing, warns Spanish virologist

Much of the world will probably be wearing masks 'for couple of years,' warns a prominent Spanish virologist.  

'We will get over this in some years, but we don't have to expect this is going tobe a hundred-meter run,' Dr Margarita del Val, the head of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) - Salud Global/Global Health told MarketWatch. 

'It's going to be a marathon.'  

Much like the US, Spanish health officials like Dr del Val have found themselves at odds with in-fighting politicians on how to manage the coronavirus crisis. 

Spain is now the hardest-hit country in Europe, again, and enacted more restrictions on Friday in the hopes of slowing the once-more accelerating spread of coronavirus. Masks are required outside the home and gatherings are limited to six people, including seating-groups at bars and restaurants, where occupancy is capped. 

Pandemic fatigue set in long ago among Spaniards, who were first locked down on March 14 amid the country's first surge of COVID-19 cases. Amid anger from the residents of Spain's capital, a court there blocked lockdown measures on Thursday. 

Yet cases are surging there, with 10,981 cases and 196 new deaths reported yesterday. 

Dr del Val's caution echoes the sentiments of US infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci, who said last week during a Facebook Live event with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy that, even if 75 or 80 percent of the US was vaccinated, 'it is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures.'

A prominent Spanish virologist warned that people the world over should assume they will be wearing masks for at least two years  (file)

A prominent Spanish virologist warned that people the world over should assume they will be wearing masks for at least two years  (file) 

Coronavirus was first detected in the US and Spain alike in January of 2020. 

In the intervening nearly-10 months, each nation has approached the tipping point for its health care systems, masks have become the norm, and cases have fallen back to tolerable rates. 

Americans and Spaniards alike began to relax, enjoying warm weather and the opportunity to gather in the relative safety of outdoor, open air spaces. 

'I think when people were eating and drinking outside, which was taking one measure, open air, which is good, they were forgetting a second measure…either distance or masks,' Dr del Val said. 

She noted that while stay-at-home orders were lifted, Spain's street, restaurants, bars and public transportation began to look as closely packed as they had pre-pandemic. 

But being in close proximity to other people will continue to be a problem so long as the virus is circulating in the world (as it's apt to do even more actively as temperatures drop across the Northern Hemisphere) - up until and likely after vaccines are available. 

Johnson & Johnson has struck a deal with the European Union, including Spain, for enough of its single-dose vaccine to inoculate 200 million people, with the option for the EU to acquire another 200 million doses down the road. 


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