COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

Primary Prevention Camargo MC, Martinez-Silveira MS, Lima AA, et al. Effectiveness of the use of non-woven face mask to prevent coronavirus infections in the general population: a rapid systematic review. Cien Saude Colet. 2020 Sep;25(9):3365-3376. doi: 10.1590/1413-81232020259.13622020. Epub 2020 Aug 28.

OBJECTIVES: to evaluate the effectiveness of non-woven face masks for the prevention of respiratory infections (MERS CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2) in the population.

METHODS: search in Medline, Embase, Cinahl, The Cochrane Library, Trip databases. Google Scholar, Rayyan and medRxiv were also consulted for complementary results. No filters related to date, language or publication status were applied. Titles and abstracts were screened, and later, full texts were evaluated.

RESULTS: three studies were included: a randomized cluster clinical trial and two systematic reviews. The clinical trial indicates a potential benefit of medical masks to control the source of clinical respiratory disease infection. In one of the systematic reviews, it was not possible to establish a conclusive relationship between the use of the mask and protection against respiratory infection. Finally, another systematic review indicated that masks are effective in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses.

CONCLUSION: Evidence points to the potential benefit of standard non-woven face masks. For the current pandemic scenario of COVID-19, education on the appropriate use of masks associated with individual protection measures is recommended.

Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
Infectious Disease
Public Health
Pediatrics (General)
Comments from MORE raters

Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP) rater

This is an interesting article during the current pandemic helping me to keep the general population updated with good current information.

Infectious Disease rater

These are good analysis hampered by lack of well done studies. They are highly relevant in the current pandemic. This reinforces our beliefs about the usage of proper masks.

Pediatrics (General) rater

It is unclear while 2 SRs were included, why only one cluster RCT was presented in this rapid review. Is the evidence on this topic based only on a single cluster RCT?

Pediatrics (General) rater

This systematic review is topical and ultimately important, but there are insufficient data to make this a worthwhile read. The key message remains that hand washing and staying away from potential infection sources is most effective.