SARS-CoV-2 Infection Rates Following Use of Regular Compared With Defective Respirators When Caring for COVID-19 Patients: A Retrospective Follow-up Study

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BACKGROUND: There is strong observational evidence that respirators are highly effective in protecting the users from being infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), but the evidence for SARS-CoV-2 during daily work is limited. This study utilized a subset of healthcare workers' temporary use of a new brand respirator with frequent defects when caring for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients to assess the protective effect of regular respirators against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

METHODS: We retrospectively followed 463 participants wearing a regular respirator and 168 wearing the new brand respirator day-by-day when caring for COVID-19 patients until testing polymerase chain reaction positive for SARS-CoV-2 between 27th December 2020 and 14th January 2021.

RESULTS: We observed seven and eight incident SARS-CoV-2-infected cases. This corresponded with daily infection rates of 0.2 and 0.5%, an incidence rate ratio of 0.4 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.1; 1.0], and an incidence rate difference of 0.3% (95% CI -0.1; 0.8) when comparing a regular with the new brand respirator.

DISCUSSION: We regard the new brand respirator a sham intervention, and this study thus provides further evidence for the protective effect of respirators when exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus.

TidsskriftAnnals of work exposures and health
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 30 apr. 2022

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© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.

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