Infectious Diseases: Disease Control

(asked on 9th February 2023) - View Source

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Markham on 5 December 2022 (HL3057), how the UK Health Security Agency’s The effectiveness of face coverings to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in community settings: A rapid review (update 2) from November 2021 accounts for biases such as the retrospective data collection, short-term duration of the studies and the presence of co-interventions; and why the rapid review was not independently peer-reviewed.

Answered by
Lord Markham Portrait
Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
This question was answered on 6th March 2023

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published a range of rapid evidence reviews. The first review of the effectiveness of face coverings in non-healthcare settings was published on 26 June 2020, with the first update published on 29 January 2021, and the second update published on 9 November 2021. The second update review searched for studies up to 14 September 2021.

Studies were assessed by an experienced UKHSA evidence reviewer and checked by a second reviewer using the quality criteria checklist (QCC) for primary research. This risk of bias tool can be applied to most study designs, observational and interventional, and is suitable for rapid reviews of mixed type of evidence. As copy of this checklist is attached.

Reviewers using the QCC tool can capture bias from retrospective data collection, presence of co-interventions, and short-term duration of follow-up. In all three evidence reviews of the effectiveness of face coverings, all biases that the reviewers felt were present in each of the included studies were detailed in the supplementary tables to the reports.

All evidence reviews were subject to an internal quality assurance and clearance process prior to publication. Due to the pace of the UKHSA COVID-19 pandemic response, independent peer review was not sought prior to publication.

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