Don’t throw out your mask just yet, scientists caution

“It’s important to not see this change as a signal that this means that the pandemic is over or that there is no capacity for policy reversals in the future,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health...

“It’s a reflection of how much of a better place we’re in now than we were, but it’s a reflection too of the decreased transmission we expect to see over the summer months,” he said. And that means that people should prepare for Covid restrictions to be revisited in the fall, especially given uncertainties around how emerging variants will impact vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing disease spread. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine in particular, said Hanage, appears to be less effective at blocking transmission.

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“There is a certain advantage to normalizing behaviors, like mask-wearing, that are going to be useful if we encounter any sort of bumps in the road in terms of variants or a serious seasonal effect,” he said.