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Introduction: Even though more than two years have passed since the beginning of the pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), it does not seem clear if the healthcare professional can choose between the surgical mask and the N95 respirator to avoid being contaminated by SARS-CoV-2. Objective: To assess scientific evidence that compared the protective effect of surgical masks versus N95 respirators in preventing COVID-19 in healthcare professionals.
Methods: Systematic review. The primary outcome will be a comparison between surgical masks versus N95 respirators in preventing COVID-19 in healthcare professionals. The secondary outcome will be comparing the time that the surgical mask and the N95 respirator can be used without the need to change. Clinical trials, prospective and retrospective cohort studies, and case-control studies published between 2020 and 2022 in English, Portuguese, and Spanish will be included. Databases searched will be MedLine via PubMed, Latin American and Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences (LILACS), Cochrane Library, Excerpta Medica dataBASE (Embase), manual search, and gray literature. Studies that do not pertain to the research questions, incomplete articles, abstracts, review articles, editorials, expert opinions, books, academic articles, dissertations, theses, and proceedings of scientific events will be excluded. The risk of bias and methodological quality of the included studies will be analyzed by the Cochrane tool Rob 2 for clinical trials and the Joanna Briggs Institute critical assessment for observational studies. The study protocol was registered with PROSPERO CRD42021216568.
Expected results: Expand existing evidence with greater strength of recommendation.
Keywords: Surgical masks; Respirator N95; SARS-CoV-2; Prevention