Respiratory protection: what SARS-CoV-2 has taught us

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2023 Aug 1;36(4):276-280. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000930. Epub 2023 May 31.


Purpose of review: This review summarizes the epidemiological evidence for respiratory personal protective equipment for SARA-CoV-2, a topic of considerable controversy.

Recent findings: The main findings are that the observational studies and non-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) randomized trials do not provide clear evidence that the N95 respirators offer superior protection over surgical masks. A randomized controlled trial on COVID-19 provides evidence that the absolute risk to healthcare workers over time using surgical masks is similar to N95 respirators.

Summary: The implications of the findings are that surgical masks and N95 respirators can be considered for respiratory protection in healthcare workers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Masks
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiratory Protective Devices*
  • SARS-CoV-2