Tag Archives: pandemic

SSI: COVID Variant B.1.1.7 Now Dominant In Denmark – Increases Risk of Hospitalization 64%

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In early January, in (SSI) Estimate Of COVID Variant B.1.1.7 Growth, Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut warned that if he epidemic curve could not be substantially slowed, the B.1.1.7 COVID variant would become the dominant COVID lineage in Denmark by the end of February. 

(excerpt)

It is the health authorities’ assessment that it is crucial to turn the epidemic curve around and get the contact number significantly below 1 in the coming weeks, so that the infection rates are as low as possible when cluster B.1.1.7 becomes the dominant virus in mid-February. As large parts of society have been shut down, it is expected that infection can occur to a greater extent in connection with gatherings inside and outside the home, and that tightening the assembly ban from 10 to 5 people in the public space is a necessary measure to prevent serious spread of infection.

In all but their best case scenario, they considered it likely that it was simply  a matter of `when’ . . . not `if‘ . . . variant B.1.1.7 becomes dominant in Denmark. 

Two weeks later, the UK released a NERVTAG paper on COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 that found  there is a realistic possibility that VOC B.1.1.7 was associated with an increased risk of death compared to non-VOC viruses. 

 They estimated the increased risk at that time to be about 30%.

Just two weeks ago, in an Updated NERVTAG Reportadditional UK studies reinforced the notion that B.1.1.7 likely carries somewhere between a 30%-70% increased risk of death.  

This combination of increased severity and infectivity has raised concerns that the recent gains made against the COVID pandemic could become short-lived should this variant continue its world tour.

Overnight Denmark’s SSI published new data showing that B.1.1.7 has become the dominant COVID lineage in Denmark and data suggesting that infection with this variant carries a 64% greater risk of hospitalization.

B.1.1.7 may lead to multiple admissions

As predicted by mathematical model calculations, B.1.1.7 has now been taken over as the most widespread variant in Denmark. Now, results from a Danish study show that B.1.1.7 also seems to carry a 64% greater risk of hospitalizations (95% safety interval 32-104%).


Last edited on February 24, 2021
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Due to greater infectivity, the proportion of those infected with the B.1.1.7 variant has been steadily growing and is today dominant in Denmark.

There is good reason to take the virus variant B.1.1.7 seriously. Calculations of the variant made by the expert group for mathematical modeling at the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) have since the turn of the year predicted that an undercurrent of infection with the more infectious variant would take over and drive the epidemic in Denmark during February.

Those predictions have proven to hold true. The proportion of people infected with B.1.1.7 increased from 4% in early January to 45% in the second week of February. And B.1.1.7 now accounts for over 60% of the total infection.

Now, the results of a registry-based study conducted by SSI show that people infected with B.1.1.7 have an estimated increased risk of hospitalization compared to people infected with other SARS-CoV-2 virus variants of 64% (95 safety range 32-104%).

“We do not know the explanation for the fact that B.1.1.7 increases the risk of being admitted. But our figures point in the same direction as several other studies from the UK, which show that B.1.1.7 may have more serious courses, ”says Tyra Grove Krause, Acting Technical Director at SSI.

Results agree with UK studies

On 11 February, the UK authorities published a report summarizing data from several studies suggesting that infection with B.1.1.7 may lead to more serious disease compared to other SARS-CoV-2 virus variants.

“It is important to emphasize that SARS-CoV-2, including B.1.1.7, in the vast majority of cases produces mild processes. In the study, 6% of the cases with B.1.1.7 were admitted. However, if the risk of hospitalization is greater for B.1.1.7, hospitals may become more congested as B.1.1.7 spreads more. ” says Tyra Grove Krause.

Vaccines are considered effective

A total of 35,887 individuals who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the period from January 1 to February 6 were included in the study. Samples from 23,057 (64%) individuals were sequenced throughout. Here, a virus genome was detected for 18,499 (80%). Among these, 2,155 (12%) were infected with B.1.1.7.

A total of 128 out of 2,155 B.1.1.7 cases were admitted. People infected with B.1.1.7 had an increased risk of hospitalization of 64% (95% confidence interval 32% -104%) compared to those infected with other virus variants, taking into account differences in age and time of sampling for B.1.1.7 cases and cases with other variants as well as a number of other factors.

“The results emphasize that we must continue to pay attention to preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2 in general in society until we have the vaccines spread to more people in the coming months. Fortunately, the international health authorities consider that the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against B.1.1.7 “, says Tyra Grove Krause.

The Danish surveys have today been submitted to an international preprint server. This means that the study has not yet been reviewed by peers in peer-review or assumed in a scientific journal, but that the article will meanwhile be publicly available within a few days.

In January the CDC’s MMWR made a similar forecast for the United States, suggesting that B.1.1.7 could become dominant here by late March or April (see Emergence Of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Lineage — United States, Dec 29, 2020–Jan 12, 2021).

As problematic as B.1.1.7 appears to be, the saving grace is that the current vaccines appear to be effective against it.  The more people that can be vaccinated now – before this variant becomes dominant – the better chance we have of blunting its impact.

Admittedly, there are other variants of concern (e.g. B.1.351, P.1, CAL.20C, etc.) that may not be as well controlled by current vaccines, which could begin to gain traction should B.1.1.7 recede. But for now, B.1.1.7 remain as our variant of most immediate concern. 

Finland STM & TFL Statement: COVID Infections/Hospitalizations Rising Significantly

After peaking in early-to-mid December, COVID cases in Finland dropped nearly 50% in early January, only to begin a steady rise over the past 6 weeks.

In the week ending February 15th, Finland reported its largest weekly (n=3278) case total since the pandemic began. A jump of nearly 20% over the previous week.

Finland remains one of the least affected European nations, but the recent trends are concerning, and today the Prime Minister Sanna Marin held a press conference announcing a 3-week lockdown – starting March 8th – that would close restaurants and require older students to return to remote learning.

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 Finland – WHO Dashboard

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After peaking in early-to-mid December, COVID cases in Finland dropped nearly 50% in early January, only to begin a steady rise over the past 6 weeks. 

In the week ending February 15th, Finland reported its largest weekly (n=3278) case total since the pandemic began. A jump of nearly 20% over the previous week. 

Finland remains one of the least affected European nations, but the recent trends are concerning, and today the Prime Minister Sanna Marin held a press conference announcing a 3-week lockdown – starting March 8th – that would close restaurants and require older students to return to remote learning. 

Although the Finnish government websites have not updated their information, details are available in this Reuters report: Finland to tighten COVID-19 restrictions from March 8The Prime Minister also indicated she is prepared to declare a state of emergency if necessary. 

While many countries are looking at their falling COVID numbers and are exploring ways to reduce COVID restrictions in the weeks and months ahead, the spread of a more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant – which is also linked to increased severity – may derail those plans. 

Today the TFL (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) and Finland’s STM (Social and Health Ministry) released the following joint statement on the recent rise in cases. 

STM and THL inform
The number of coronavirus infections has risen significantly, with the need for hospitalization increasing

Social and health Ministry
2/25/2021 9.47 RELEASE

A total of more than 3,400 new coronavirus infections were detected in week 7, ie between 15 and 21 February 2021, which is clearly more than in the previous week. The incidence of cases across the country was 62 infections per 100,000 population, compared to 46 infections per 100,000 population in the previous week.


Working-age infections are most prevalent, especially among young adults. Of all cases, about 80 percent were found in those under 50 years of age and about 45 percent in those under 30 years of age. Those over 60 years of age accounted for about 9 percent of the cases diagnosed, and those over 70 years of age accounted for about 3 percent.

More than 11,000 people were quarantined in week 7. This is 2,700 more people than the previous week.

This information is reflected in the weekly monitoring report of the Department of Health and Welfare. Coronavirus monitoring (THL)


The situation remains the worst in the HUS area – extensive clusters of infection in many areas

The coronavirus epidemic situation has deteriorated in recent weeks, especially in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital districts. The incidence of the disease has also increased in nine other areas in the last two weeks. Incidence, on the other hand, decreased or remained the same in 11 hospital districts.

New cases have been reported both inside and outside known infection chains.

Mass exposures have been reported in several hospital districts, triggering chains of infection. The incidence of coronavirus cases has increased, for example, in Satakunta’s South Savo and South Karelia hospital districts and in Åland in week 7 compared to the previous week.

Some of the new chains of infection could possibly have been prevented by careful adherence to the recommendations and restrictions. Late application for the test has in some cases led to the emergence of extensive chains of infection.

During ski holidays, tourism can increase the likelihood of the disease spreading to areas where the disease situation is calmer.

Nationwide, the workload of hospital care has been increasing over the past week. The need for intensive care has also increased over the last couple of weeks, but the capacity of intensive care nationwide has not been threatened.

According to the data of 24 February 2021, there are 193 people in hospital nationwide. Of the patients, 86 are in specialist nursing wards, 72 in primary care wards and 35 in intensive care units. A week ago, there were a total of 132 coronary patients in hospital.

The number of deaths related to the coronavirus is slowly declining. At week 7, 14 were reported, and at weeks 5-6, 21 and 17, respectively.

Transformation viruses require effective control measures

To date, 690 cases of modified coronavirus have been reported in Finland. Of these, 660 are British virus variants.

The epidemic situation calls for very effective control of the spread of the virus in the coming weeks and months. Rapid and wide-ranging containment measures are also effective against the transformation virus.

Corona epidemic: regional situation, recommendations and constraints (THL)

The coronavirus is effectively transmitted, especially in prolonged close contact. Everyone can slow down the spread of the coronavirus by their own actions. It is also important to reduce close contacts in good health, and even in the case of mild symptoms suitable for coronavirus disease, a test should be applied immediately.

Coronavirus – Infection and Protection (THL)ns in a new tab

‘It Doesn’t Feel Worth It’: Covid Is Pushing New York’s EMTs to the Brink

The department switched from eight- to 12-hour shifts last summer, leaving Espinal, a single mother of three, too exhausted to pick up overtime. Like many health care workers, she isolated from her children at the outset of the pandemic to avoid potentially exposing them to the coronavirus, leaving them in the care of her own mother; she described being separated from her 1-year-old son as “devastating.” Despite working round-the-clock to get the city through the early days of the pandemic, she often had to choose between paying rent on time or paying utility bills.

“After working this year, for me personally, it doesn’t feel worth it anymore,” she said. She is two exams shy of finishing a nursing degree she started studying for before the pandemic. She said the last year has only strengthened her resolve to shift careers.

The pandemic has disproportionately claimed Black and brown lives — Black and Hispanic people were significantly more likely than white people to die of covid — an
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This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free.

In his 17 years as an emergency medical provider, Anthony Almojera thought he had seen it all. “Shootings, stabbings, people on fire, you name it,” he said. Then came covid-19.

Before the pandemic, Almojera said it was normal to respond to one or two cardiac arrests calls a week; now he’s grown used to several each shift. One day last spring, responders took more than 6,500 calls — more than any day in his department’s history, including 9/11.

An emergency medical services lieutenant and union leader with the New York City Fire Department, Almojera said he has seen more death in the past year than in his previous decade of work. “We can’t possibly process the traumas, because we’re still in the trauma,” he said.

EMS work has long been grueling and poorly paid. New FDNY hires make just over $35,000 a year, or $200 more than what is considered the poverty threshold for a four-person household in New York City. (That figure is on par with national averages.) Employee turnover is high: In fiscal year 2019, more than 13% of EMTs and paramedics left their jobs.

But covid-19 has added a new layer of precarity to the work. According to Oren Barzilay, the Local 2507 union president, nearly half of its 4,400 emergency medical technicians and paramedics have tested positive for the covid virus. Five have died, though that figure doesn’t account for first responders who worked for private emergency response companies. Nationwide, at least 128 medical first responders have died of covid, according to Lost on the Frontline, an investigation by KHN and The Guardian.

The problem of EMS pay was in the spotlight in December, when the New York Post outed paramedic Lauren Caitlyn Kwei for relying on an OnlyFans page to make extra money. Kwei, who works for a private ambulance company, wrote on Twitter: “My First Responder sisters and brothers are suffering … exhausted for months, reusing months old PPE, being refused hazard pay, and watching our fellow healthcare workers dying in front of our eyes.” She added: “EMS are the lowest paid first responders in NYC which leads to 50+ hour weeks and sometimes three jobs.”

Almojera earns $70,000 annually as a lieutenant, but his paramedic colleagues’ salaries in non-leadership roles are capped at around $65,000 after five years on the job. He earns extra income as a paramedic at area racetracks and conducting defibrillator inspections. He has colleagues who drive for Uber, deliver for GrubHub and stock grocery shelves on the side. “There are certain jobs that deserve all your time and effort,” Almojera said. “This should be your only job.”

For Liana Espinal, a paramedic, union delegate and 13-year veteran of the FDNY, a sense of camaraderie and the opportunity to serve her fellow Brooklynites compensated for low pay and exhausting shifts. For years she was willing to take on overtime and even a second job with a private ambulance company to make ends meet.

But covid changed that. The department switched from eight- to 12-hour shifts last summer, leaving Espinal, a single mother of three, too exhausted to pick up overtime. Like many health care workers, she isolated from her children at the outset of the pandemic to avoid potentially exposing them to the coronavirus, leaving them in the care of her own mother; she described being separated from her 1-year-old son as “devastating.” Despite working round-the-clock to get the city through the early days of the pandemic, she often had to choose between paying rent on time or paying utility bills.

“After working this year, for me personally, it doesn’t feel worth it anymore,” she said. She is two exams shy of finishing a nursing degree she started studying for before the pandemic. She said the last year has only strengthened her resolve to shift careers.

The pandemic has disproportionately claimed Black and brown lives — Black and Hispanic people were significantly more likely than white people to die of covid — and those disparities extend to health care workers. Lost on the Frontline has found that nearly two-thirds of health care workers who have died of covid were non-white.

All five of the department’s EMS employees who died of covid were non-white.

They included Idris Bey, 60, a former Marine and 9/11 first responder who was known to stay cool under pressure. He was an avid reader who bought new books each time he got a paycheck.

Richard Seaberry, 63, was looking forward to retiring to the Atlanta area to be near his young granddaughter.

Evelyn Ford, 58, left behind four children when she died in December, just as the coronavirus vaccine became available to first responders in New York City. According to the City Council’s finance division, 59% of EMS workers are minorities.

Almojera and Espinal see a racial component to pay disparities within the FDNY. Firefighters with five years on the job can make more than $100,000, including overtime and holiday pay, whereas paramedics and EMTs cap out at $65,000 and $50,000, respectively. According to the City Council finance division, 77% of New York firefighters are white.

“My counterpart fire lieutenants make almost $40,000 more than me,” Almojera said. “I’ve delivered 15 babies. I’ve been covered head to toe in blood. I mean, what do you pay for that? You can at least pay us like the other 911 agencies.”

An FDNY spokesperson declined to comment on salaries, saying that pay is negotiated between the unions and the city.

The last year has also exacted an emotional toll on an already stressed workforce. Three of the FDNY’s EMS workers died by suicide in 2020. John Mondello Jr, 23, a recent EMS academy graduate, died in April. Matthew Keene, 38, a nine-year veteran, died in June. Brandon Dorsa, 36, who had struggled with injuries from a 2015 workplace accident, died in July.

Family and colleagues told local news outlets that Mondello and Keene were struggling with trauma as a result of the pandemic. Last spring, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense and city agencies to help front-line health workers cope with the stress of working through the pandemic. But many EMS workers have said that the program has been difficult to access.

“There aren’t a lot of resources for people, so a lot of EMS internalize what they go through,” Almojera said. “It’s not normal to see the things that we see.”

Issues regarding pay and mental health challenges predate the pandemic: A national survey conducted in 2015 found EMS providers were much more likely than the general population to struggle with stress and contemplate suicide.

Almojera knew Keene and last spoke with him a week before his death. “You can’t say enough nice things about the guy,” he said. “I wish he had mentioned even a hint of [his struggles] on the phone. And I would have shared how I was feeling through all this.”

He said he has felt a mix of pride, exhaustion and resignation over the past year. “I’ve seen the magic that you can do on the job,” Almojera said. “And I’ve seen my brothers and sisters on this job cry after calls.”

Almojera is now representing his union in talks with the city to renegotiate EMS and paramedic contracts. He said he hopes that city officials will think of the hardships he and his fellow first responders endured over the past year when they come to the negotiating table to discuss pay raises. But early talks have not been encouraging.

“After all the sacrifices made by our members,” he said. “I don’t know whether to be angry, flip the table, or just shrug my shoulders and give up.”

This story is part of “Lost on the Frontline,” an ongoing project from The Guardian and Kaiser Health News that aims to document the lives of health care workers in the U.S. who die from COVID-19, and to investigate why so many are victims of the disease. If you have a colleague or loved one we should include, please share their story.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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This story can be republished for free (details).

Russian Media Reports 7 Human Infections With Avian H5N8

“So far, we see that the new pathogen of avian influenza A (H5N8) is capable of spreading from birds to humans – it has overcome the interspecies barrier. But this variant of the influenza virus is not transmitted from person to person today,” Popova said.

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One of the reassuring hallmarks of avian H5N8 has been that – unlike H5N1 and H5N6 – it has never been known to infect humans.  There were reports out of Russia in the fall of 2017 – made by Anna Popova Chief State Sanitary Physician of the Russian Federation – regarding potential asymptomatic human infection with HPAI H5N8, but they were never verified (see A Curious (And Unverified) H5N8 Report From Russia).

While primarily a disease affecting birds, we have seen some evidence of H5N8 jumping to mammals (see MAFRA: H5N8 Antibodies Detected In South Korean Dogs (Again)), and some research (see Sci Rpts: H5N8 – Rapid Acquisition of Virulence Markers After Serial Passage In Mice) suggesting that H5N8 could someday acquire the genetic changes that would make it a human health threat as well.

A 2017 editorial in the Journal Virulence (see J. Virulence Editorial: HPAI H5N8 – Should We Be Worried?) reviewed and summarized the literature, and found enough reasons to be concerned over the future evolutionary path of H5N8, stating that:

The extensive distribution of HPAI H5N8, as well as the gene reassortment with other circulating avian viruses already observed for H5N8 suggests there is a potential risk for human cases of H5N8 infections.

According to numerous Russian and English language media reports this morning, Russia has notified the World Health Organization of 7 confirmed avian H5N8 infections in humans.  The announcement was made earlier today by Anna Popova. 

This (translated) report from TASS.

The world’s first case of human infection with influenza A (H5N8) was detected in Russia

Bird flu is not yet transmitted from person to person, emphasized the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova

MOSCOW, February 20. / TASS /. Avian influenza of a new type was detected in seven employees of a poultry farm in southern Russia, the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova said at a briefing on Saturday.
 
“Scientists of the Vector Center have isolated genetic material of this type of avian influenza from seven employees of a poultry farm in the south of the Russian Federation, where an outbreak was registered among the poultry population in December 2020,” she said. The head of Rospotrebnadzor noted that this was the world’s first confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N8) virus.

According to her, all measures to protect people and animals were carried out in a short time, all risks were minimized and this situation did not develop further.

“All people, all seven people I’m talking about today, feel good, their clinical course was very mild. But at the same time, our scientists were able to see changes in the human body and the immune response to meeting this virus in all seven workers This poultry farm. Today they feel good, and at that moment they felt good, the disease ended quickly enough, “she said.

Person-to-person transmission

No cases of human-to-human transmission of the new type of avian influenza virus have yet been recorded, Popova said.

“So far, we see that the new pathogen of avian influenza A (H5N8) is capable of spreading from birds to humans – it has overcome the interspecies barrier. But this variant of the influenza virus is not transmitted from person to person today,” Popova said.

According to the head of Rospotrebnadzor, “how quickly subsequent mutations will allow him to overcome this barrier, time will tell.”

“This scientific discovery of our scientists, the Vector Institute of Rospotrebnadzor allows us to warn scientists, practitioners, and the public and citizens around the world in order to take the necessary measures in a timely manner and counter a new threat at a significantly new high level of counteraction and prevention. Time for this. we have it today, “the chief sanitary doctor of Russia emphasized.

(Continue . . . )

This is obviously unwelcome, but not completely unexpected, news.   Hopefully we’ll get an update from the WHO with more details in the days ahead.

ECDC Technical Report: Using Face Masks in the Community – Effectiveness In Reducing Transmission Of COVID-19

I suspect that 10 or 20 years from now, after enough time has passed to dispassionately analyse this COVID-19 pandemic, one of our biggest failures will seen as our not immediately producing – on a war footing – massive quantities of medical grade PPEs for Healthcare workers, and `standardized’ face covers for everyone else.

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I suspect that 10 or 20 years from now, after enough time has passed to dispassionately analyse this COVID-19 pandemic, one of our biggest failures will seen as our not immediately producing – on a war footing – massive quantities of medical grade PPEs for Healthcare workers, and `standardized’ face covers for everyone else.

We’ve known for well over a decade that we’d face huge shortages of PPEs (see 2009’s Caught With Our Masks Down) during any pandemic, and yet the world did nothing substantial to prepare. 

How we find ourselves –  a year into this pandemic – still faced with shortages of N95s for HCWs, and the public continuing to struggle with a hodgepodge of sketchy commercial and/or homemade face covers simply boggles the mind.

In Asian nations where public mask wearing has been nearly universal (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.), COVID-19 remains largely suppressed.  Not that face masks offer perfect protection; they don’t.  

But when consistently and correctly worn, they have been shown to reduce the transmission of COVID. 

A recent MMWR Study (see below) found that when properly fitted and worn, even non-medical face masks can reduce exposure from infected wearers and reduce exposure of uninfected wearers. 

Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure, 2021


Early Release / February 10, 2021 / 70
Please note:. This report has been corrected.

John T. Brooks, MD1; Donald H. Beezhold, PhD2; John D. Noti, PhD2; Jayme P. Coyle, PhD2; Raymond C. Derk, MS2; Francoise M. Blachere, MS2; William G. Lindsley, PhD2

Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Universal masking is recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cloth masks and medical procedure masks substantially reduce exposure from infected wearers (source control) and reduce exposure of uninfected wearers (wearer exposure).

What is added by this report?

CDC conducted experiments to assess two ways of improving the fit of medical procedure masks: fitting a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, and knotting the ear loops of a medical procedure mask and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face. Each modification substantially improved source control and reduced wearer exposure.

What are the implications for public health?

These experiments highlight the importance of good fit to maximize mask performance. There are multiple simple ways to achieve better fit of masks to more effectively slow the spread of COVID-19. 

MMWR%2BMask.png

Today the ECDC has published a 31-page Technical Report on the use of face masks (both medical and non-medical) by the public to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. 
The quality of the evidence on the effectiveness of non-medical grade masks is admittedly scant and of low certainty, mostly because few studies have been conducted, and there is no universal `standard‘ for these types of PPEs. 
Nevertheless, the ECDC recommends the use of both medical and (in some circumstances) non-medical face covers by the public in situations where the virus is circulating and exposure is likely. 

I’ve reproduced the executive summary below, which includes their recommendations for mask wearing, but you’ll want to follow the link to download and read the report in its entirety. 

Using face masks in the community: first update – Effectiveness in reducing transmission of COVID-19


Technical report
15 Feb 2021 

This technical report reviews the evidence that has been accumulated since the emergence of COVID-19, in addition to what has existed on this topic prior to the pandemic, and updates the ECDC opinion on the suitability of using face masks in the community published on 9 April 2020.


Executive summary

The role of face masks in the control and prevention of COVID-19 remains an issue of debate. Prior to COVID-19, most studies assessing the effectiveness of face masks as a protective measure in the community came from studies on influenza, which provided little evidence to support their use.

Assessment of the evidence

The evidence regarding the effectiveness of medical face masks for the prevention of COVID-19 in the community is compatible with a small to moderate protective effect, but there are still significant uncertainties about the size of this effect. Evidence for the effectiveness of non-medical face masks, face shields/visors and respirators in the community is scarce and of very low certainty.

Additional high-quality studies are needed to assess the relevance of the use of medical face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic.


Recommendations

Although the evidence for the use of medical face masks in the community to prevent COVID-19 is limited, face masks should be considered as a non-pharmaceutical intervention in combination with other measures as part of efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking into account the available evidence, the transmission characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the feasibility and potential harms associated with the use of various types of face masks, the following options are proposed:

  • In areas with community transmission of COVID-19, wearing a medical or non-medical face mask is recommended in confined public spaces and can be considered in crowded outdoor settings.
  • For people vulnerable to severe COVID-19, such as the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions, the use of medical face masks is recommended as a means of personal protection in the above-mentioned settings.
  • In households, the use of medical face masks is recommended for people with symptoms of COVID-19 or confirmed COVID-19 and for the people who share their household.
  • Based on the assessment of the available scientific evidence, no recommendation can be made on the preferred use of medical or non-medical face masks in the community.
  • When non-medical face masks are used, it is advisable that masks that comply with available guidelines for filtration efficacy and breathability are preferred.


The very limited scientific evidence regarding the use of respirators in the community does not support their mandatory use in place of other types of face masks in the community. Although respirators would not be expected to be inferior to non-medical or medical face masks, the difficulties to ensure their appropriate fitting and use in community settings as well as potential adverse effects related to lower breathability should be taken into account.

The use of face masks in the community should complement and not replace other preventive measures such as physical distancing, staying home when ill, teleworking if possible, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth.

The appropriate use of face masks and promoting compliance with their use when recommended as public health measures are key to the effectiveness of the measure and can be improved through education campaigns.

Using face masks in the community: first update – Effectiveness in reducing transmission of COVID-19 – EN – [PDF-702.58 KB]

New AstraZeneca COVID vaccine data ease worries over 2nd-dose delay

EXCUSE ME – people have been suggesting a wider gap with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. This finding does not cover those vaccines but you want us to believe that they are the same? Get real and stay real, please.

COVID Vaccine Centre sign in UK
Lisa Schnirring | News Editor | CIDRAP News
Feb 03, 2021

Findings suggest the vaccine provides strong protection after 1 dose and could slow disease spread.