Healthcare Workers Who Wear Good Quality Masks Get Less COVID

August 16, 2022:- According to an article by Ingrid Hein in MedPage Today, an observational analysis showed that healthcare workers had better odds of outsmarting SARS-CoV-2 infection while wearing a respirator mask instead of a surgical mask.

Among workers revealed to COVID-19 patients, those who regularly donned a respirator mask had a lower probability of infection (21% vs. 35% for those that did not; OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.39-0.61), notified Philipp Kohler, MD, of Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen in Switzerland, and associates.

And this disparity was “irrespective of cumulative exposure,” the group reported in JAMA Network Open.

Still, Kohler stated in an email conversation that the study results do not allude to causality. “Whether healthcare workers sporting respirators also behave differently outside their working place (and thereby get slightly infected) remains an open question.”

Unsurprisingly, healthcare staffers were more likely to test positive with ampler cumulative exposure to COVID-19 patients, nevertheless of their mask usage:

  • >2 to 4 hours of exposure: 25% positive
  • >8 to 16 hours: 32.9% positive
  • >64 hours: 42.7% positive

But Kohler was surprised to see such a “nice” dose result for patient exposure (OR 1.20 per doubling of cumulative contact time, 95% CI 1.14-1.26). “This is something I had not hoped to see.”

While working full time at least 80% of the time was also associated with a heightened risk of a positive SARS-CoV-2 result (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.10-1.77), a household contact displayed the most influential threat (OR 7.79, 95% CI 5.98-10.15).

Along with invariably masking with a respirator, vaccination also covered against testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.41-0.74).

Another defensive factor was being an active smoker (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.49-0.95).

The last conclusion “is a bit odd,” divulged Kohler. “Smokers may have a reduced risk, but if infected … they fare worse,” he expressed.

This study does not furnish evidence that protocols for respirator masking should be stricter, stated Kohler.

“Wearing respirators is very irritated if you have to do this over a long time,” he said. He stated that the risk of getting infected is probably more heightened when eating out in a restaurant or having a family gettogether. However, “I think that particularly [healthcare workers] at risk (for instance with immunosuppression) could aid from wearing respirators when caring for SARS-CoV-2 patients.”

How many COVID-19 patients am I seeing? Do I have risk factors for severe disease? Am I vaccinated? “These are important questions to ask in deciding whether to use respirators or not,” Kohler said.

To correspond infection risk by mask type, researchers observed 2,919 healthcare workers weekly from September 2020 to September 2021 at seven healthcare centers in Switzerland.

Participants (mean age 43) were strained for anti-nucleocapsid antibodies at baseline in January 2021 and September 2021. Among them, 749 (26%) participants were contaminated with SARS-CoV-2. A positive test was also noted in 13% of participants who were not revealed to patients.

Participants said weekly the results of their SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal swabs (PCR or rapid antigen testing), the number of vulnerabilities they had to infected patients, including mean contact period (in a range of 1 to 60 minutes), and the type of protection utilized (respirator or surgical mask).

No discrepancies in odds of SARS-CoV-2 positivity were observed for healthcare workers in the intensive care unit or for those who visited their hospital’s canteen once or more per week (vs. less often).