The team of researchers found that variants are spreading more effectively after testing 49 infected individuals, CBS Baltimore reported earlier this week. Tests were conducted with masks on and masks off, with the study results showing that variant infections resulted in a person exhaling “more virus” into the air.
Notably, the study focused on the Alpha variant, which was the dominant one at the time the data was collected. The amount of virus in the air that was coming from those infected with the Alpha variant was found to be 18 times more than what could be explained by heightened amounts in nasal swabs and saliva.
“We know that the Delta variant circulating now is even more contagious than the Alpha variant,” Dr. Don Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and one of the study’s researchers, said in a press release. “Our research indicates that the variants just keep getting better at travelling through the air, so we must provide better ventilation and wear tight-fitting masks, in addition to vaccination, to help stop spread of the virus.”
The overarching message here, of course, is that wearing masks in certain situations—specifically masks that aren’t loose-fitting—can indeed help reduce the spread. Study authors have also thrown their support behind the use of additional measures, i.e. ventilation improvement and boosted filtration systems. Most immediately, researchers also point to vaccines as being critical to protection.
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