As of May of this year, there is a worldwide scarcity of the N95 mask. The scarcity was deeply rooted in the overwhelming demand for the N95 mask. Aside from the overwhelming demand, it was also believed that looting and impulsive buying of the N95 mask contributed to the scarcity. The scarcity of the N95 mask poses a great threat to people as Covid-19 continues to shake up worldwide healthcare.
Why the N95 mask?
Between the surgical mask and the N95 mask, the N95 mask is the most trusted mask to be worn in this pandemic. This is due to the protection that the N95 mask can provide. Aside from comfort and convenience, the N95 mask is believed to filter aerosol particles that potentially contain strains of microorganisms; including bacteria and viruses. The tight fit in the area of the nose and mouth prevents any form of leakage. The N95 mask can also protect the wearer from any form of fluid contamination. The protection of the N95 mask has been proven by experts for years. Moreover, the N95 mask is known and used widely in the field of Medicine.
The N95 has been a protective gear for people working in the medical field. In fact, it is a part of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) set, which includes the surgical gloves and a suit. Now that there is an acknowledged worldwide scarcity for the N95 mask, hospitals are experiencing shortages of the N95 mask. Most hospitals even use multiple plies of the surgical mask just to keep themselves protected. Other hospitals are forced to reuse the slightly used N95 mask.
Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had released guidelines in proper utilization of the slightly used N95 mask, still the danger that the slightly used N95 mask cannot be set aside. Once used, regardless if heavily or slightly used, the N95 mask is good for one-time use and must be disposed of after use.
Given the scarcity issues of the N95 mask, several companies both in the US-based and foreign-based have expanded their capacity of the N95 mask. This is to aid the global demand for the N95 mask.
Companies which expanded their N95 mask capacity
3M, the world’s leading brand manufacturing the FDA cleared and NIOSH approved N95 mask. The company has been doubling its effort to supply the N95 mask. Earlier this year, it was estimated that over a million pieces of the N95 mask are used every day in hospitals alone.
Aside from 3M, there are US-based companies that expressed their support and contribution to meet the overwhelming demand for the N95 mask.
Moldex-Metric Incorporated has recently expanded its company in Lebanon, Tennessee. A budget of $25 Million will be allotted to the manufacturing of the N95 mask. The company was first based in California, specifically in Culver City. Moldex-Metric has been the second-biggest company that makes the N95 mask in North America in their 40 years in the business.
Medicom Group is a Canadian company based in Montreal which has recently expanded to Augusta, Georgia. The new company in Georgia will house the production of the N95 mask, as well as the surgical mask. Aside from Montreal and Augusta, Medicom Group had also opened additional plants in Canada, the UK, and even Singapore.
Honeywell Incorporated also has augmented its supply of the N95 5mask. In fact, their company has expanded in Arizona. Since the start of the pandemic, the North Carolina-based company has been doubling their efforts in producing as much NIOSH and FDA approved N95 masks.
This effort of companies has been active ever since the first case in the United States was reported. In fact, apart from 3M, Prestige Ameritech amplified their N95 mask production. They have targeted a total of almost 2 million pieces of the N95 mask in the month of May.
The combined efforts of these companies are projected to result in manufacturing 10 million pieces of the N95 mask.
Chinese based companies have also ramped up their production of the N95 mask. However, prior to distribution, the N95 mask coming from China is thoroughly regulated by authorities; given that there is an on-going issue of counterfeiting.
What are the implications of these efforts?
The various efforts of companies in increasing their supply of the N95 mask mean a lot. It is a great help so that the overwhelming demand for the N95 mask is countered and alleviated at the same time.
With this move of the N95 mask producing companies, hospitals will now have an assurance that they will be able to protect themselves while saving millions of lives. With the N95 mask, this would mean even better service and covid-19 response.
With an increased number of the N95 mask, the people working in the medical field are not the only people who can benefit from this. Common people who are trying to survive from this pandemic can also acquire the benefit and the protection that the N95 mask is offering.
With more people wearing the N95 mask, more people are protected. More people can enjoy their lives. More people can now work. The economy can be opened again. The flow of money will slowly resume its cycle.
Without the initiative of these companies, the Covid-19 response is slow. Fewer people wearing the N95 mask would mean great risk and a potential increase of positive cases; including casualties.