When the risk is lowest outdoors
Take your dog for a walk, ride a bike, hike a trail, or picnic with members of your household or vaccinated friends. These are activities where the risk of virus exposure is negligible. In such situations, you can have a mask in your pocket in case you find yourself in a crowd or need to go into the house.
What You Need To Know About The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Break In The United States
- On April 13, 2021, U.S. health officials called for an immediate halt to use of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine after six recipients in the U.S. developed a rare blood clot disorder within one to three weeks of being vaccinated.
- All 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico have temporarily stopped using the vaccine or recommended providers are suspending use of the vaccine. The U.S. military, government-run vaccination centers, and a variety of private companies, including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Publix, also paused the injections.
- Fewer than one in a million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are currently being studied. If there is a real risk of blood clots from the vaccine – which has yet to be determined – the risk is extremely small. The risk of contracting Covid-19 in the United States is much higher.
- The hiatus could complicate the country's vaccination efforts at a time when many states are facing spikes in new cases and are trying to address vaccine hesitation.
- Johnson & Johnson had also decided to delay the launch of its vaccine in Europe amid concerns about rare blood clots. However, the company later decided to continue its campaign after the European Union Medicines Agency announced the addition of a warning. South Africa, devastated by a contagious variant of the virus, stopped using the vaccine and Australia announced it would not buy doses.
"I think it's a little too much to ask people to put the mask on when they're walking, jogging, or biking," said Dr. Muge Cevik, Clinical Lecturer in Infectious Diseases and Medical Virology at the University of St Andrews School of Medicine in Scotland, where outdoor masking was never required. "We are at a different stage of the pandemic. I think external masks should not have been prescribed at all. This is where the infection and transmission does not take place."
“Let me run, maskless. Mask in your pocket, "tweeted Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician and medical director of the Department of Specific Pathogens at Boston Medical Center. “Given the conservative opinion I've had all year, this should show how little the risk of transmission outdoors is in general with short-term contact – and even less after vaccination. Keep the masks with you when you are stationary in a crowd and going inside. "
To understand how low the risk of transmission is outdoors, researchers in Italy used mathematical models to calculate the time it would take a person to get infected outdoors in Milan. They envisioned a bleak scenario in which 10 percent of the population were infected with Covid-19. Their calculations showed that it takes an average of 31.5 days of continuous outdoor exposure for a person avoiding the crowds to inhale a dose of virus sufficient to transmit an infection.
"The result is that this risk in the outside air is negligible if crowds and direct human contact are avoided," said Daniele Contini, lead author of the study and aerosol scientist at the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate in Lecce, Italy.
Even with more infectious virus variants floating around, the physics of virus transmission in the open air has not changed and the risk of infection in the open air is still low, according to virus experts. Pay attention to the infection rates in your community. As the number of cases increases, the risk of encountering an infected person increases.
When outdoor fun moves indoors
Dr. Cevik notes that outdoor masking debates and articles with photos of crowded beaches during the pandemic have created the false impression that parks and beaches are unsafe and distracted by the much higher risks of indoor transmission. Often times, it is the indoor activities associated with outdoor fun – like traveling without a mask on a subway or a car for hiking, or visiting a pub after being on the beach – that pose the greatest risk. "People grill outside, but then they spend time inside chatting in the kitchen," said Dr. Cevik.