Imagine this. The world’s most powerful country has now become the world’s number one with the most number of CoViD-19 cases. It is unimaginable but the United States of America is the living proof. For over a couple of months now, the USA leads the world with over 8 million CoViD-19 cases. But how? Numerous state health departments have been releasing protocols and constantly reminding the Americans to wear a respirator, like the N95 respirator. While some are not paying attention to the reminder, there are some who are excessively overdoing it; to the point that people are purchasing large bulks of the N95 respirator.
How much N95 respirator is purchased since the pandemic has started?
Prior to the start of the pandemic, there are roughly a thousand pieces of N95 respirator purchased by hospitals. And now that the pandemic has started, respirators like the N95 respirator has become a staple in every American home. It cannot be helped not to keep yourself safe since safety is now at the top of the basic necessities of man. In the United States of America alone, there are 1.2 million pieces of N95 respirator purchased by the government that were distributed in hospitals as of the month of April alone.
US medical experts and business moguls in the respirator industry estimated that a range of 14 to almost 20 million pieces of N95 respirator is ample for a year. That is before the pandemic. Then the pandemic came. Large companies like 3M are overwhelmed with the increasing demands for the elusive N95 respirator. That estimated range skyrocketed since the pandemic hit the US. With thousands of active cases daily, the demand for the N95 respirator has increased exponentially.
It is even projected that on a daily basis, hospitals in each state can use a combined total of nearly 50,000 pieces of the N95 respirator. In fact, the World Health Organization is tapping into the largest companies across the globe to upgrade their manufacturing capability by up to 40% just to be at par with the overwhelming demand for the N95 respirator.
The above mentioned estimations are based on the purchasing capability for hospitals alone. How much more if the purchasing capabilities of both hospitals and common folk are to be combined? It would take billions of N95 respirators.
Issues with over buying the N95 respirator
It is of common knowledge that respirators like the N95 respirator provide 95% filtration ability against dust and other airborne particles. However, with the on-going pandemic, people are over buying the N95 respirator. This generated quite a few issues. Here are some issues that go with over buying the N95 respirator:
- Overbuying of the N95 respirator leads to scarcity.
Along with meeting the global demands are the continuous efforts of people in buying N95 respirators in large numbers. If tolerated, medical personnel cannot be provided with the N95 respirator since this is a part of their triad of safety. That is why it is best for consumers to purchase other alternatives that work just like the N95 respirator and leave the N95 respirator to the medical staff and personnel because they need it the most.
- Expiration of unused N95 respirator.
Overstocking of N95 respirator may lead to other respirator left unused. In fact, a common misconception is circulating that it is okay to stock large numbers of N95 respirators. Respirators like the N95 respirator has a shelf life. It usually goes around for a year. So once unused, it will lead to the expiration of the N95 respirator. Medical experts warn the public from wearing an expired N95 respirator. Although there are some exceptions to this, it is advisable not to use an expired N95 respirator.
- Excessive buying of N95 respirators leads to unhealthy practices.
Aside from scarcity, excessive buying of the N95 respirator potentially leads to unhealthy practices. Since there is no available supply of the N95 respirator, other hospitals are forced to reuse their N95 respirator. It is already unhealthy to reuse since these medical personnel has been exposed to patients containing the CoViD-19. Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had released a standard protocol to those hospitals that will be reusing the N95 respirator, it is still best not to reuse the N95 respirator due to microbial contamination that may potentially harm a nurse or a doctor.
With the evident scarcity and overwhelming demand, people can use other alternatives of the N95 respirator. The KN95 mask from China works the same as the N95 respirator. It can also filter 95% of airborne particles. People can be quite skeptical of the KN95 because of its country of origin. But there are signs that you might be getting the counterfeit such as the label, the fit, and others. FFP2 is the European equivalent of the N95 respirator of the US. It also works practically the same as the N95 respirator for it can filter 94% of particles. You can also check 3M’s website for more models of N95 respirator that might suit to your liking.
For those who have breathing issues, the common disposable surgical mask can be used. Although it may not work as efficiently as the N95 respirator, it can also provide wearers the protection they need. A face shield on top will do the trick and one can now enjoy going out. If you plan on using the disposable surgical mask, you can either put a tissue under it or put another disposable mask on top of the first one.