Updated review of the evidence shows small reduction in risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection with mask use versus no mask use
By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter
TUESDAY, May 16, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Masks may be associated with a small reduction in the risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in community settings, according to the final update of a living, rapid review published online May 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Roger Chou, M.D., and Tracy Dana, from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, updated an evidence synthesis on N95, surgical, and cloth mask effectiveness for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in community and health care settings. Data were included from three randomized trials and 21 observational studies.
The researchers found that based on two randomized trials and seven observational studies, mask use may be associated with a small reduction in the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in community settings compared with no mask use. Surgical masks and N95 respirators may be associated with a similar risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in routine patient care settings based on one new randomized trial with some imprecision and four observational studies. Due to methodological limitations and inconsistency, evidence from observational studies was insufficient to assess other mask comparisons.
“As in prior updates, our main finding for community settings was low-to-moderate strength evidence that mask use (any or unspecified type) may be associated with a small reduction in risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection versus no masks,” the authors write.
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