Medical Masks vs N95 Respirators for Preventing COVID-19 in Health Care Workers A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials.
Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2020 Apr 04;:
Authors: Bartoszko JJ, Farooqi MAM, Alhazzani W, Loeb M
BACKGROUND: Respiratory protective devices are critical in protecting against infection in health care workers at high risk of novel 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19); however, recommendations are conflicting and epidemiological data on their relative effectiveness against COVID-19 are limited.
PURPOSE: To compare medical masks to N95 respirators in preventing laboratory confirmed viral infection and respiratory illness including coronavirus specifically in health care workers.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, Embase and CENTRAL from January 1st 2014 to March 9th 2020. Update of published search conducted from January 1st 1990 to December 9th 2014.
STUDY SELECTION: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the protective effect of medical masks to N95 respirators in health care workers.
DATA EXTRACTION: Reviewer pair independently screened, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias and the certainty of the evidence.
DATA SYNTHESIS: Four RCTs were meta-analysed adjusting for clustering. Compared to N95 respirators; the use of medical masks did not increase laboratory confirmed viral (including coronaviruses) respiratory infection (OR 1.06; 95% CI 0.90-1.25; I2 =0%; low certainty in the evidence) or clinical respiratory illness (OR 1.49; 95%CI 0.98-2.28; I2 =78%; very low certainty in the evidence). Only one trial evaluated coronaviruses separately and found no difference between the two groups (p=0.49).
LIMITATIONS: Indirectness and imprecision of available evidence.
CONCLUSIONS: Low certainty evidence suggests that medical masks and N95 respirators offer similar protection against viral respiratory infection including coronavirus in health care workers during non-aerosol generating care. Preservation of N95 respirators for high-risk, aerosol generating procedures in this pandemic should be considered when in short supply.
PMID: 32246890 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]