Impact of face masks on COVID-19 incidence in children in Finland

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A recent study posted to the medRxiv* preprint server assessed the impact of face masks on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) incidence among children aged between 10 and 12 years.

Study: Use of face masks did not impact COVID-19 incidence among 10–12-year-olds in Finland. Image Credit: Halfpoint/Shutterstock
Study: Use of face masks did not impact COVID-19 incidence among 10–12-year-olds in Finland. Image Credit: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

This news article was a review of a preliminary scientific report that had not undergone peer-review at the time of publication. Since its initial publication, the scientific report has now been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in a Scientific Journal. Links to the preliminary and peer-reviewed reports are available in the Sources section at the bottom of this article. View Sources

Background

During the period of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Delta variant predominance in Finland, the use of face masks was recommended across the country in schools. However, there is insignificant data related to the impact of face masks in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission.

About the study

In the present study, the researchers compared the incidence of COVID-19 among children aged between 10 to 12 years, residing in different Finnish cities, with different recommendations regarding the usage of face masks in schools.

The team obtained the total number of COVID-19 cases from the National Infectious Disease Registry (NIDR) of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. They also collected demographic information including the patient’s date of birth, sex, and residential area. The moving averages of 14-day case incidences were employed as a dependent variable. Furthermore, the team calculated the average percent changes (APC) occurring over one month.

The cities of Helsinki with a population of 6,61,887 and Turku with a population of 1,95,818 were compared for the present study since their baseline incidence of COVID-19 was comparable in August and September 2021. Helsinki had implemented face mask usage at schools while Turku had recommended face mask usage for individuals aged 10 years and above.

The team compared the 14-day incidences of COVID-19 among individuals aged seven to nine, 10 to 12, and 30 to 49 years.

Results

The study results showed that there were no significant differences in APC values in August between Helinski and Turku. However, the APC value was higher in Turku in September and November while the APC value was higher in Helsinki in October.

Notably, the incidence of COVID-19 in children aged seven to nine years was similar to that in children aged 10 to 12 years, while no such similarity was observed for adults aged 30 to 49 years in the two cities.    

Overall, the study findings showed that there were no substantial differences in the incidence of COVID-19 after wearing face masks in children aged between 10 to 12 years and residing in Helsinki and Turku.

This news article was a review of a preliminary scientific report that had not undergone peer-review at the time of publication. Since its initial publication, the scientific report has now been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in a Scientific Journal. Links to the preliminary and peer-reviewed reports are available in the Sources section at the bottom of this article. View Sources

Journal references:

Article Revisions

  • May 13 2023 - The preprint preliminary research paper that this article was based upon was accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed Scientific Journal. This article was edited accordingly to include a link to the final peer-reviewed paper, now shown in the sources section.
Bhavana Kunkalikar

Written by

Bhavana Kunkalikar

Bhavana Kunkalikar is a medical writer based in Goa, India. Her academic background is in Pharmaceutical sciences and she holds a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy. Her educational background allowed her to foster an interest in anatomical and physiological sciences. Her college project work based on ‘The manifestations and causes of sickle cell anemia’ formed the stepping stone to a life-long fascination with human pathophysiology.

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