Wearing a face mask in public is something most people are doing now, but when will we be able to stop doing so safely?
Arpana Verma is a professor of public health and epidemiology at the University of Manchester and says, “I would hope we return to a time when circulating coronavirus levels are wiped out. But, like with some cultures where they have repeated coronavirus outbreaks, mask-wearing for some is the norm.”
Dr. Julian Tang, a consultant virologist, adds, “Just like with the 2009 pandemic flu virus, I think SARS-CoV-2 will gradually become more human-adapted. So more transmissible, less lethal, which will increase our overall herd immunity slowly. This may reduce the need for masks, except in specific elderly/vulnerable groups.”
Tang adds that this herd immunity process could take five to ten years, but that governments may decide to implement a “masks on, masks off” approach, by reacting to local virus levels.
So the short answer: you won’t be able to ditch your mask anytime soon.