The advice was published on the WHO Facebook page on 31 May 2023, and was shared by several national and regional WHO missions on different social media channels.

The John Snow Project has long been advising prevention as the best protection, and we’re glad the WHO has joined us.

Screenshot of a Facebook post by World Health Organization saying "You can prevent post COVID-19 condition by taking measures to prevent the infection." with a graphic listing five measures: wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and boosted, avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated places, maintaining physical distancing, cleaning your hands regularly.

The WHO advises people to

  1. Get vaccinated and boosted
  2. Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places
  3. Wear a mask in crowded and poorly ventilated places
  4. Maintain physical distancing
  5. Clean your hands regularly

Some members of the John Snow Project have been treating COVID-19 patients for the past three years and never been infected. They have protected themselves using masks designed to fit snug on the face, like N95/FFP2 or higher-grade respirator masks. The John Snow Project would go further than the WHO and recommend this specific grade of mask (N95/FFP2) as a minimum standard whenever people are sharing indoor air with others.

We would also recommend filtration of indoor air whenever possible to further reduce risk. If you’d like advice on how to reduce your risk of catching or transmitting COVID-19, click here.

The WHO joins the growing list of public health agencies that recognize vaccination alone is insufficient to protect against the harmful effects of infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This has been the consensus advice of experts for some time1,2, and this advice is now backed by research that suggests the risk of Long Covid is higher on reinfection. We explain why this is a predictable outcome in this Primer.

Public attitudes and behaviour do not align with the messaging of government agencies and official bodies tasked with protecting public health. While the public has resumed pre-pandemic activities, these bodies are warning against the consequences of reinfection and advising people to take steps to protect themselves against it. Most people are completely unaware of this advice, and it will likely take mass communication campaigns and government intervention to raise awareness of the potentially harmful consequences of COVID-19 even after vaccination.

In light of the growing numbers of people suffering the wide-ranging harms that can be caused by COVID-193, and the high hospitalisation and excess death rates around the world, we support this new messaging from the WHO and hope other public health bodies and governments will work harder to inform the public of the ongoing risks.