How popular are N95 respirators in India?

COVID-19 has infected 24.5 million cases worldwide and killed 832 thousand people. With a mortality rate of 3.4%, higher than the seasonal flu’s 0.1%, the public has been advised to wear the N95 respirator. Compared to previous pandemics, the COVID 19 virus is dubbed as more dangerous and fatal. Due to its novel nature, scientists say that it is the deadliest threat of the 21st century.

With this in mind, this virus poses the highest risk to third-world nations like India. Inhabited by more than 1.3 billion people, India ranks second as the world’s most populous country. In relation to the pandemic, this statistic places India in a threatening position. Ranking 145th among 195 countries in healthcare, wearing the N95 respirator for infection prevention is more important than ever.

Recording 3.39 million infections and 61 thousand deaths, India is third in the COVID 19 global ranking. With numbers like this, India’s Health Ministry has imposed strict laws on wearing virus protection gear. Everyone is required to wear a disposable face mask or any medical grade 3M 8511, 3M 8210, kn95 masks, 3M N95 masks, and 1860 N95 respirator.

Considered as the best antiviral protection, the N95 respirator is now a popular product not just for the medical and surgical staff. Accompanied by a face shield, the N95 respirator is now a part of the Indian’s daily outfit. Every family with kids or elderly is expected to put on a reusable face mask in public.

However, with the rise of so many n95 masks and N95 respirator industries, India is in a predicament. The public market is now filled with N95 respirator varieties, that the public is getting confused. It also does not help that fake N95 respirators are thrown into the mix. To counter this problem, India’s Health Ministry decides to correct misinformation.

N95 Respirators with and without Valves

Approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the N95 respirator demand had increased twenty-fold worldwide. With various companies struggling to make enough supplies, N95 respirator prices have become higher than ever. This spike of commodity cost has led to people cutting their budgets and preferring cheaper N95 respirator alternatives.

As mentioned earlier, the N95 respirator provides the best filter from COVID 19. As regulated by the USA NIOSH, the N95 respirator blocks 95% of particles that are no less than 300 nm. Used during the SARS pandemic in 2003, the N95 respirator has proven itself safe for use. However, the public is having a difficult time wearing an N95 respirator.

Some can experience claustrophobic tendencies and hyperventilation if the N95 respirator is not worn properly. This public perception has resulted in the rise of the N95 respirator with valves in India. They do not only provide easier airflow but it is also cheaper.  But how does the N95 respirator with the valve do this?

The N95 respirator valve works differently. With a plastic gasket in front of the N95 respirator, it allows easier breathing and decreased humidity inside.  An N95 respirator with the valve also releases more heat than the valve-free N95 respirator. It still uses the same material and filters pathogens from the dust and smoke, but India’s Health Ministry is questioning its effectivity.

Dr. Ajit Kumar Das of the Health Ministry says that the N95 respirator with a valve is dangerous for the public. While studying the N95 respirator with the valve’s structure, he found out that the gasket was a one-way filter. This means that it could filter the virus from entering your body but the pathogens exiting from you will spread.

Following the United States, India’s Health Minister has banned the use of the N95 respirator with a valve. It is now deemed unsafe by the WHO and recommends the use of the N95 respirator without a valve instead.

N95 Respirator Counterfeit Dilemma

On an extensive study conducted by physicist Arnab Bhattacharya of the Tata Institute of Mumbai, he discovered the widespread N95 respirator market fraudulence. When Mumbai was hit by a devastating shortage of N95 respirator, counterfeit N95 respirator stocks suddenly appeared online. Bought in bulk and wholesale prices, the public was hooked by the fake N95 respirator.

Due to the lack of imports from US-based companies like 3M, India experienced a drought in N95 respirator supplies. This became a huge problem since it led to substandard protection for healthcare workers. Based on their results, they were able to find out that most of the N95 respirators in the market did not promise a 95% filtration rate.

According to their research, the fake N95 respirator only filtered 60-80% of the virus. These findings appalled the group that they reported the fake N95 respirator stocks right away. India’s Health Ministry quickly conducted information drives on the dangers of the fake N95 respirator.

India’s Health Ministry Advice

On a letter to the Indian State, Dr. Rajiv Garg of the Health Ministry strongly advised against the N95 respirator with valves and without seal. With the aim to combat the counterfeit N95 respirator industry, the country began to confiscate the unsafe N95 respirator stocks. The Health Ministry has also advised the public to use homemade masks instead.

If the public has a hard time purchasing the safe N95 respirator in the market, experts suggest the cloth fabric face mask that they can buy for sale in different stores. This way, consumers will have an easier time choosing the perfect size and they can be reused.

N95 Respirator Supplies

Due to a pressing lack of N95 respirator supplies in India, USA based Honeywell Company has decided to expand its production. In a recent interview, Akshay Bellare, president of Honeywell, India, states that the company will soon be providing disposable N95 respirators and masks to the public.

With the aim to flatten the curve and lower the daily infection cases, India’s prime minister has collaborated with Honeywell. They support the company in their production of the N95 respirator for the healthcare workers and the public.

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