It’s crazy, if not downright sad and disappointing, that we’re still grappling with the coronavirus this far into 2021. Like many people, I assumed that an ambitious vaccination effort — which saw the development of three effective vaccines — would have been enough to put the COVID-19 saga behind us. Alas, unfounded vaccine fears, along with states removing face mask requirements, have created a resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country.
Some states, in response, have reinstituted mask mandates. In Illinois, for example, all individuals over the age of 2 need to wear a face mask when indoors. In light of that, if you’re looking to pick up some new masks, you should be aware that some N95 face masks were recently singled out by the FDA for being ineffective.
The face masks at issue
When it comes to COVID protection, N95 masks are the best you can do. Still, the FDA this week is cautioning people and health care facilities that N95 masks manufactured by Shanghai Dasheng Health Products Manufacturing Co. are no good.
According to the CDC, Shanghai did not “implement, maintain, and control a quality management system” during the production process. Consequently, all Shanghai Dasheng N95 respirator masks “are no longer authorized for emergency use.”
Additionally, masks manufactured by Shanghai Dasheng under other brand names and approval numbers lost authorization as well. A list of approval numbers that no longer get the green light from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) can be viewed here on the FDA website.
Covid-19 is still an ongoing problem
The Delta variant is still spreading like wildfire across several Southern and Midwestern states. In fact, the current COVID-19 infection rate is as high today as it was back in November. Alongside that, coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations are also on the rise. And again, this has led to several states reinstituting face mask mandates
States currently in the throes of the Delta variant are mostly located down South. The situation is particularly dire in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.
A third COVID-19 shot gets FDA approval
Because the Delta variant is more contagious, the FDA recently approved a third vaccine shot for immunocompromised individuals.
“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said.
“After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines.”
Hospitals are at capacity
As more and more unvaccinated individuals contract COVID-19, hospitals are running out of room. Some states, for example, now have less than 10% of ICU beds available. The states that are nearly at full capacity include Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida, and Arkansas.
Almost all COVID-19 related hospitalizations at this point involve unvaccinated individuals. This data point underscores the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
As Dr. Matthew F. Daley said, this is a “reflection of a failure to vaccinate, not vaccine failure.”