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Meta-analysis on the protection provided by face masks in epidemic situations

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In the early months of 2020, the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic led to the use of protective devices to limit the spread of the infection. The use of masks, in particular, has been made mandatory in the population, as well as in hospitals, by specific legislative decrees. Those who work in hospitals or on ambulances certainly have a greater chance of coming into contact with the virus and becoming infected, as has unfortunately been shown by the high number of health workers who fell ill during this epidemic. The use of masks has been widely studied in healthcare. Less is known about the degree of protection of the general population.

To evaluate the effectiveness of surgical masks, Centro Studi GISED analyzed, through a meta-analysis, the data deriving from scientific publications on the ability of the different devices to prevent respiratory infections in the general population.

The meta-analysis was entered in the PROSPERO registry, an international registry of systematic reviews. Studies between 2005 and 2020 were searched in PubMed / Medline and Embase:

Elena Pezzolo, Simone Cazzaniga, Luigi Naldi. The effectiveness of surgical masks vs controls in preventing of spreading respiratory infections in real life setting. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020178913.

The first results were presented at the XXXIII GISED Meeting and were published in the online comments under study:

Bundgaard H, Bundgaard JS, Raaschou-Pedersen DET, et al. Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Nov 18: M20-6817. Epub ahead of print.

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