This Evidence Snapshot is a rapid review of the evidence for the efficacy healthcare workers use of N95 masks compared with surgical masks in reducing COVID-19 transmission in hospitals and residential aged-care. The review identified 13 reviews and one commentary addressing comparative effectiveness of respirators and medical masks, eight of which were specific to COVID-19. Direct evidence of the effectiveness of respirators in prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection is low, with concerns about the generalizability of other virus models. Results were inconsistent with the strongest evidence coming from a WHO commissioned review which adjusted for aerosol generating procedures. The review offers some explanations for the uncertainty around the use of respirators and summarises international recommendations.


Moore G, Du Toit A, Jameson B, Gordon R. Evidence for the efficacy of respirators and medical masks for healthcare workers to reduce transmission of COVID-19: an Evidence Snapshot brokered by the Sax Institute for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2020. doi:10.57022/mrgp5250

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