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What protects against COVID-19 transmission?


A study in The Lancet is the first review of all available evidence on how physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection affect the spread of COVID-19, SARS, and MERS in both community and healthcare settings across 16 countries.


infographic: What protects against COVID-19

The conclusions

The researchers identified 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents, with no randomised controlled trials and 44 relevant comparative studies in healthcare and non-healthcare settings. Their analysis came to the following conclusions:

1. Transmission of viruses was lower with physical distancing of 1 m or more, compared with a distance of less than 1 m; protection was increased as distance was lengthened

2. Face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection, with stronger associations with N95 or similar respirators compared with disposable surgical masks or similar (eg, reusable 12–16-layer cotton masks)

3. Eye protection also was associated with less infection. Unadjusted studies and subgroup and sensitivity analyses showed similar findings

Sources & links

  • The Lancet | Read the full paper | Link
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