What should be the priority of a person buying an N95 mask—price or the quality?

The beginning of the coronavirus pandemic introduced laymen to N95 respirators which have now at present become an essential commodity for both the healthcare workers and the general public too. An N95 respirator is a face mask that has been tried and tested to provide the user 95% protection against various airborne particulates including droplets, fluids, viruses, bacteria, smoke, and pollution. The N95 is unlike any other masks because of its seal fit and efficient protection against particulates up-to-the size of 0.3 microns. Its highly efficient filtering material distinguishes it from other masks like surgical masks and cloth masks.

Importance of the N95 during the pandemic

The N95 comes in various varieties and each mask is different from the other possessing different functions and capabilities. In the early days of the N95, this respirator could only cater to construction workers but later another updated and slightly altered version of this respirator was manufactured to meet the needs of the medical sector. But as the unprecedented situation of the outbreak began to unfold and the notorious Coronavirus gained the status of a pandemic, N95s began to vanish from stores and pharmacies.

The pandemic gave birth to a globally prevalent panic that drastically affected the cognitive abilities of individuals for the worst. The widespread panic prompted people to prepare for the lockdown by hoarding grocery and other essential items and to erratically search for N95s in stores and online. What followed was that the N95s vanished from everywhere because of the excessive demand and the few handful stores and websites that had them, offered them at an unreasonably high price.

The manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the high demand which led to an imbalance in the relationship of supply and demand and as a result, the price of these products sky-rocketed. Furthermore, platforms like Amazon put a halt to the sales of N95s and reserved them for frontline workers specifically as per the government’s orders. Organizations like WHO also recommended cloth masks for the general public to ensure the availability of surgical masks and N95 respirators for all healthcare workers

How economical are N95 masks?

Although during the first wave of the coronavirus, it was nearly impossible for a person to grab hold of an N95 if they were not healthcare workers as the authorities got a hold of the situation and the virus was alleviated to a possible extent, the prices started going down and the N95s became reachable. But during the first, the prices were so high that only the affluent could afford this mask and that if they had good luck in finding it since they had been reserved for healthcare workers only. An increase of approximately 319% has been reported in the prices of respirators and masks which was record-breaking.

But now that the first wave is over and although the public is still advised to use cloth masks and leave N95s and surgical masks for the frontline workers as there are still many hospitals who are enduring a scarcity of this particular PPE, the N95s are now available in stores as well as online. But even after the drastic decline in the overall prices, N95s remains the most expensive of all respirators even its counterparts, surgical masks, KN95 and FFP2 do not cost as much as an N95 does.

Will the purchase of an N95 be considered ‘value for money’?

Despite how expensive an N95 may be considered, it’s still the best respirator out there in comparison to all other masks. Of course, there was a reason that everyone during the first wave and even now is coveting an N95 mask. There are countless substitutes for an N95 mask like the KN95, which is regulated under the Chinese jurisdiction, the FFp2 of the European Union, and the surgical mask. But none of these masks could even come close to the efficiency and protection level of the N95 mask. It is an acknowledged fact that N95 is not the most affordable mask out there and not everyone can buy it without thinking that they have splurged a lot of money on something they are only going to use for a maximum limit of 24 hours.

In addition, someone not belonging to an affluent background will instead go for a mask that is less expensive and will not be a cause of regret for them. However, those who can afford an N95 respirator, they should buy it without having any doubts. The fact that this mask is the preferred choice of PPE for the healthcare workers who are at the most risk of contracting this virus alone speaks volumes about the reliability and efficiency of this mask. In conclusion, buying an N95 will cost you quite a sum but it will not be a bad decision in the least.

Conclusion

N95 is considered to be the most reliable mask, but owning this mask requires a good sum as it is one of the more expensive masks. The money spent on an N95 is not an expense but rather an investment as this mask will give its user the utmost protection for as long as they may choose to wear it. So despite its relatively high price, it is recommended to buy.

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