Why Are N95 Masks Still So Difficult To Get?
Facemasks are huge part of the thing we called ‘new normal’. Nowadays, taking good care of ourselves and taking preventive measures are crucial to keep ourselves healthy and free from the virus. One of those measures is by wearing face masks every time we have to go outside especially in public places. According to China, the country is now making 200 million face masks everyday. It is 20 times greater than the number of face masks they were producing before the pandemic hit the world. This include the lightweight masks that people usually wear as protection against COVID-19 and heavy duty N95 masks used by health care workers. Despite the voluminous amount of face masks being produced every day, it seems that it is still not enough to meet the demands as global orders are also increasing rapidly.
According to study, mask manufacturers are running at 110% capacity. Even factories that once made iPhones, shoes, and cars are now being retooled to manufacture face masks. Moreover, machineries that are designed to create sanitary pads and diapers are now producing materials for masks. Hence, manufacturing masks is not as easy as we thought it is. According to the chairman of pharmaceutical group Shengjingtong, there is a massive and huge system needed to create face masks in a voluminous amount just to meet global orders and the demand of the local people.
As of the moment, the 200 million masks that China manufactures every day contain only 600,000 N95 standard masks that are used by health-workers and medical personnel. As a result, the provincial regulators have added dozens of new licenses factories to operate in order to contribute in the production of top-grade masks including those that meet the standards for use by health-care professionals.
Furthermore, both the light and heavy-duty masks require a once-obscure material called malt-brown fabric. This fabric is a fine mesh of synthetic polymer fibers that forms the filtration layer of the mask. This allows the user to breath while reducing the inflow of possible infectious particles. But the problem is that, the cost of machine that produces this kind of fabric melts down material costs 3.8 million euros. This could be very costly if we want to produce face masks that are safe to use. In addition, the machines intended to create such materials are not easy to create due to its exacting precision required. there is a need to stretch the fibers by hot air and it needs to be in the standard condition.
With that being said, the creation and production of high quality and genuine KN95 masks and the regular ones used by the public is not as easy as we thought it was. There are several factors that contribute to the overall production including the materials used and the machines needed. Hence, these are also the reason why we experienced shortage in face masks. This pandemic is indeed a challenge for all of use and we have to be cooperative.