August 2020.

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.

Citation: 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.

Date of publication: August 2020

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