Since a safe and effective vaccine has not been developed yet, scientists across the world are still sceptical whether it will give foolproof protection against the novel coronavirus.
In this situation, face masks can be more effective than a vaccine against the virus, experts suggest.
However, there are plenty of excuses that people come up with for not wearing face masks.
Professor Sayedur Rahman, chairman of the Department of Pharmacology of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, told The Business Standard that the vaccines that will come in the first stage will provide complete protection against the virus. It will take another two to four years to obtain the desired results.
No vaccine will provide more protection than what a mask now offers. First-line vaccines can provide 50-60 percent efficiency in preventing coronavirus infections or be active six months to one year.
Sayedur said, "Bangladesh will get a minimal number of doses from vaccines that will be produced in 2021. Therefore, people should depend on masks that cost less for the next two to three years."
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public settings, especially where it is hard to maintain social distancing measures.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director at the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House's coronavirus taskforce, on Monday said, "Universal wearing of masks is one of five or six things that are very important in preventing the upsurge in infection and in turning around the infections that we are seeing surge," New York Times reported.
Fauci said, "There should be the extent possible social distancing, avoiding crowds. Outdoors is always better than indoors and being in a situation where you continually have the capability of washing your hands and cleaning up with sanitisers."
"But first and foremost among them is a mask."
Prof Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, told The Business Standard that it is important to wear a mask and maintain social distancing to prevent coronavirus. Even when the vaccine hits the market, we need to wear masks because the efficacy of the vaccine has not been confirmed yet. So, people have to wear masks before and after getting a vaccine. For the next few years, masks will have to be worn as part of human clothing."
Many reluctant to wear face masks
Masudur Rahman, 31, works at a private company in the capital. He had worked from home during the coronavirus shutdown. Of late, he has been going to his office.
Although he carries a mask with him, he leaves it on his desk. Masudur told the Business Standard that he feels uncomfortable wearing a mask.
Everything is back to normal in the country after the end of the shutdown. People are going out on work. But most people do not wear masks on various pretexts, including discomfort, difficulty in speaking, suffocation, etc.
On August 10, the Cabinet Division directed the field administration to take disciplinary action through mobile courts to ensure the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Every day, people are being fined in different parts of the country for not wearing masks.
However, experts say people should be encouraged to wear masks by creating awareness in them and not by slapping penalties on them.
Professor Nazrul Islam, who is a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said it is not possible to get people to wear face masks by force. They should be apprised of what masks offer in preventing coronavirus. Otherwise, they will wear masks only when a mobile court is around.
WHO #WearAMask challenge
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation, launched the #WearAMask challenge at a press briefing on August 3 by asking people to share photos and videos of themselves wearing masks on social media and to tag their friends.
Dr Tedros said, "By wearing a mask, you are sending a message of solidarity and protecting other people, especially those most vulnerable to Covid-19. Take a photo or a video of yourself wearing a mask, share it and nominate friends to do the same."