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.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


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.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Masks*
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus / isolation & purification
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • SARS Virus / isolation & purification
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology