Hospitals must look to alternative methods to cope with N95 mask shortages due to COVID-19

Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic has forced medical professionals to reuse N95 masks. According to GlobalData, the COVID-19 outbreak led to significant demand for N95 respirators and the market size was projected to grow from $7.2m from Q4 2019 to $97m in Q1 2020. This demand is expected to continue as cases continue to rise.

Kamilla Kan, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Much higher demand is expected in Q3 2020 due to the drastic rise in the number of cases. PPE manufacturers such as 3M, Honeywell and Prestige Ameritech once again are expecting a rise in market demand for face masks. Although 3M has ramped up its production of N95 respirators to produce 35 million units per month in the US, it is still not enough to combat shortages of PPE in hospitals.”

Hospitals that are overwhelmed with COVID-19-infected patients are expecting even more patients in the autumn and winter due to the reopening of schools and will have to ramp up PPE purchases. However, this approach is doomed to be cost ineffective and manufacturers will still be unable to meet the increased demand.

Kan adds: “A reusable and adjustable iMASC system is being developed by Boston-based hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an alternative to N95 masks in order to meet high demand for PPE. Furthermore, various decontamination procedures such as applications of moist heat, vaporized hydrogen peroxide or ethylene oxide were found to be effective decontamination methods and could solve the shortage of masks.”

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