Face Mask Technologies

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trader32176
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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Making Money Off Masks, COVID-Spawned Chain Store Aims to Become Obsolete

10/14/20


https://khn.org/news/covid-essentials-m ... ore-masks/


LONE TREE, Colo. — Darcy Velasquez, 42, and her mother, Roberta Truax, were walking recently in the Park Meadows mall about 15 miles south of downtown Denver, looking for Christmas gifts for Velasquez’s two children, when they spotted a store with a display of rhinestone-studded masks.

It’s an immutable truth of fashion: Sparkles can go a long way with a 9-year-old.

The store is called COVID-19 Essentials. And it may well be the country’s first retail chain dedicated solely to an infectious disease.

With many U.S. stores closing during the coronavirus pandemic, especially inside malls, the owners of this chain have seized on the empty space, as well as the world’s growing acceptance that wearing masks is a reality that may last well into 2021, if not longer. Masks have evolved from a utilitarian, anything-you-can-find-that-works product into another way to express one’s personality, political leanings or sports fandom.

And the owners of COVID-19 Essentials are betting that Americans are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Prices range from $19.99 for a simple children’s mask to $130 for the top-of-the-line face covering, with an N95 filter and a battery-powered fan.

Almost all shops and many pop-up kiosks in the Park Meadows mall now sell masks. But COVID-19 Essentials also carries other accessories for the pandemic, in a space that has a more established feel than a holiday pop-up store; permanent signage above its glass doors includes a stylized image of a coronavirus particle. Nestled beside the UNTUCKit shirt store and across from a Tesla showroom, it has neither the brand recognition nor the track record of a J.C. Penney. But longevity doesn’t seem to have helped that clothing chain or many others escape industry upheaval during the pandemic. According to analysts at S&P Global Market Intelligence, retail bankruptcies from January to mid-August reached a 10-year-high.

Not that the COVID-19 Essentials owners want their products to be in demand forever.

“I can’t wait to go out of business eventually,” said Nadav Benimetzky, a Miami retailer who founded COVID-19 Essentials, which now has eight locations around the country.

That seemed to be the attitude of most of the customers who walked into the store on a recent Friday afternoon. Most understood the need for masks — face coverings are required to even enter the mall — and thus they recognized the business case for a COVID-19 store. Still, they hoped masks would soon go the way of bell-bottoms or leg warmers. For the time being, they’re making the best of the situation.

Nathan Chen, who owns the Lone Tree store with Benimetzky, previously ran a different store at the Denver airport, but as air travel declined, a COVID-focused business seemed a much better venture. The pandemic giveth and the pandemic taketh away.

Benimetzky opened the first COVID-19 Essentials store in the Aventura Mall in suburban Miami after seeing the demand for N95 masks early in the pandemic. “They’re ugly and uncomfortable, and everybody hates them,” he said. “I piggybacked off of that. If you’re going to wear a mask, you might as well make it fashionable and pretty.”

That could mean a sequin or satin mask for more formal occasions, or the toothy grin of a skull mask for casual affairs. Some masks have zippers to make eating easier, or a hole for a straw, with a Velcro closure for when the cup is sucked dry.

The chain has locations in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Las Vegas, and is looking to open stores in California, where wildfires have only added to the demand for masks.

Initially, the owners really weren’t sure the idea would fly. They opened the first store just as malls were reopening following the lockdowns.

“We really didn’t grasp how big it would get,” Benimetzky said. “We didn’t go into it with the idea of opening many stores. But we got busy from the second we opened.”

Nancy Caeti, 76, stopped in the Lone Tree store to buy masks for her grandchildren. She bought one with a clear panel for her granddaughter, whose sign language instructor needs to see her lips moving. She bought her daughter, a music teacher and Denver Broncos fan, a mask with the football team’s logo.

“I lived through the polio epidemic,” Caeti said, as her latex-gloved hand inserted her credit card into the card reader. “It reminds me of that, but that I don’t think was as bad.” She recalled how her mother had lined her and her siblings up to get the polio vaccine, and said she’d be first in line for a COVID shot.

That perhaps is the one essential the store does not carry. It hawks keylike devices for opening doors and pressing elevator buttons without touching them. Some have a built-in bottle opener. There are ultraviolet-light devices for disinfecting phones and upscale hand sanitizer that employees spray on customers as if it were a department store perfume sample.

But the masks are the biggest draw. The store can personalize them with rhinestone letters or the kind of iron-on patches that teens once wore on their jeans.

Upon entry, customers can check their temperature with a digital forehead scanner with audible directions: “Step closer. Step closer. Temperature normal. Temperature normal.”

The store also has added a sink near the entrance so customers can wash their hands before handling the merchandise.

Some mallgoers walk by the store in bewilderment, stopping to take photos to post to social media with a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding message. One older white couple in matching masks noticed a mask emblazoned with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” in the storefront display, and walked away in disgust.

The store takes no political sides; there are three designs of President Donald Trump campaign masks, two for Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. One woman, who declined to give her name, came in wearing a mask below her nose and wondered whether a Trump mask would fit her smallish face. The Trump masks are among the more popular sellers, Chen said, so he keeps them in a bigger cabinet to accommodate the extra stock. It’s not clear if that will forecast the election results, as some have posited with Halloween mask sales.

Daniel Gurule, 31, stopped by the mall on his lunch hour to pick up an Apple Watch but ventured into the store for a new mask. He said that he normally wore a vented mask but that not all places allowed those. (They protect users but not the people around them.) He bought a $24.99 mask with the logo of the Denver Nuggets basketball team.

“It takes away a little bit of our personalities when everybody is walking around in disposable masks,” Chen said. “It kind of looks like a hospital, like everybody is sick.”

Most of the masks are sewn specifically for the chain, including many by hand. One of their suppliers is a family of Vietnamese immigrants who sew masks at their Los Angeles home, Benimetzky said. Chen said that it was hard to keep masks in stock, and that every day it seemed some other design became their best seller.

Dorothy Lovett, 80, paused outside the store, leaning on a cane with an animal print design.

“I had to back up and say, ‘What the heck is this?’” she said. “I’ve never seen a mask store before.”
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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Musicians Improvise Masks for Wind Instruments to Keep the Band Together

10/16/20


https://khn.org/news/musicians-improvis ... rotection/

Trombonist Jerrell Charleston loves the give-and-take of jazz, the creativity of riffing off other musicians. But as he looked toward his sophomore year at Indiana University, he feared that steps to avoid sharing the coronavirus would also keep students from sharing songs.

“Me and a lot of other cats were seriously considering taking a year off and practicing at home,” lamented the 19-year-old jazz studies major from Gary, Indiana.

His worries evaporated when he arrived on campus and discovered that music professor Tom Walsh had invented a special mask with a hole and a protective flap to allow musicians to play while masked.

Students also got masks for the ends of their wind instruments, known as bell covers, allowing them to jam in person, albeit 6 feet apart.

“It’s amazing to play together,” Charleston said. “Music has always been my safe space. It’s what’s in your soul, and you’re sharing that with other people.”

Of course, the very act of making music powered by human breath involves blowing air — and possibly virus particles — across a room. One infamous choral practice in Washington state earlier this year led to confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 in more than half of the 61 attendees. Two died.

So musicians around the country are taking it upon themselves to reduce the risk of COVID-19 without silencing the music. With pantyhose, air filters, magnets, bolts of fabric and a fusion of creativity, those who play wind instruments or sing are improvising masks to keep the band together.

A consortium of performing arts groups has commissioned research exploring ways for musicians to play safely. The group’s preliminary report from July recommends instrumentalists wear masks with small slits, use bell covers, face the same direction while playing and stay 6 feet apart for most instruments — with a distance of 9 feet in front and back of trombonists. Other research has shown cotton bell covers on brass instruments reduced airborne particles by an average of 79% compared with playing without one.

Jelena Srebric, a University of Maryland engineering researcher involved in the consortium’s study, said it’s also best to play in a big space with good ventilation, and musicians should break after 30 minutes to allow the air to clear. These rudimentary solutions, she said, promise at least some protection against the virus.

“Nothing is 100%. Being alive is a dangerous business,” Srebric said. This “gives some way to engage with music, which is fantastic in this day and age of despair.”

Dr. Adam Schwalje, a National Institutes of Health research fellow at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is a bassoonist who has written about the COVID risk of wind instruments. He said a combination of bell covers, social distancing and limited time playing together could be helpful, but the effectiveness of bell covers or masks for musicians to wear while playing is “completely unproven” at this point. Schwalje’s paper said it’s not possible to quantify the risk of playing wind instruments, which involves deep breathing, sometimes forceful exhalation and possible aerosolizing of the mucus in the mouth and nose.

Still, early results of research at the universities of Maryland and Colorado are helping to inspire improvisational mask-making and other safety measures, said Mark Spede, national president of the College Band Directors National Association who is helping lead the commissioned research.

At Middle Tennessee State University, for example, tuba teacher Chris Combest said his students tie pillowcases over the bells of their instruments, and some wear masks that can be unbuttoned to play. At the University of Iowa, wind players in small ensembles must use bell covers and masks, but they can pull them down when playing as long as they pull them up during rests. Heather Ainsworth-Dobbins said her students at Southern Virginia University use surgical masks with slits cut in them and bell covers made of pantyhose and MERV-13 air filters, similar to what is used on a furnace.

At Indiana, Walsh sought out whatever research he could find as he designed his tight-fitting cotton musical mask, reinforced with a layer of polypropylene and with adjustable ties in the back. A flap hangs over the hole, outfitted with two magnets that allow it to close over the instrument. The professor’s mom, Julie Walsh — who made his clothes when he was a kid — has sewn more than 80 of the musical masks for free. The opera program’s costume shop makes bell covers with a layer of fabric over a layer of stiff woven material known as interfacing fabric.

Bailey Cates, a freshman trumpet player, said the quality of the sound is about the same with these masks and they make her feel safer.

Flutes present unique challenges, partly because flutists blow air across the mouthpiece. Alice Dade, an associate professor of flute at the University of Missouri, said she and her students clip on device called “wind guards” usually used outdoors, then sometimes fit surgical masks over them.

Indiana flute student Nathan Rakes uses a specially designed cloth mask with a slit and slips a silk sock on the instrument’s end. Rakes, a sophomore, said the fabric doesn’t affect the sound unless he’s playing a low B note, which he rarely plays.

Walsh is a stickler for finding big practice spaces, not playing together for more than half an hour and taking 20-minute breaks. All jazz ensemble musicians, for example, also must stay at least 10 feet apart.

“I carry a tape measure everywhere I go,” he said. “I feel responsible for our students.”

Some K-12 schools are trying similar strategies, said James Weaver, director of performing arts and sports for the National Federation of State High School Associations.

His son Cooper, a seventh grade sax player at Plainfield Community Middle School in Indiana, uses a surgical mask with a slit. It sometimes jerks to the side with the vibrations of playing, but Cooper said it “feels good as long as you have it in the right place.” Cooper also helped his dad make a bell cover with fabric and MERV-13 material.

While many groups use homemade bell covers, McCormick’s Group in Wheeling, Illinois, has transformed its 25-year-old business of making bell covers to display school colors and insignias into one that is making musicians safer with two-ply covers made of polyester/spandex fabric. CEO Alan Yefsky said his company started reinforcing the covers with the second layer this summer. Sales of the $20 covers have soared.

“It’s keeping people employed. We’re helping keep people safe,” Yefsky said. “All of a sudden, we got calls from nationally known symphony organizations.”

Other professional musicians take a different tack. Film and television soundtracks are often recorded in separate sessions; woodwinds and brass players in individual plexiglass cubicles and masked, with distanced string players recording elsewhere.

The U.S. Marine Band in Washington, D.C., practices in small, socially distanced groups, but string instrumentalists are the only ones wearing masks while playing.

For both professionals and students, the pandemic has virtually eliminated live audiences in favor of virtual performances. Many musicians say they miss traditional concerts but are not focusing on what they’ve lost.

“Creating that sense of community — an island to come together and play — is super important,” said Cates, the Indiana trumpet player. “Playing music feels like a mental release for a lot of us. When I’m playing, my mind is off of the pandemic.”
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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Effective Fiber Masks can play vital role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission

10/23/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... ssion.aspx


Recent FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb argued that he'd "rather try to get everyone in masks" and "try to get them in high-quality masks because we know it's going to slow down the transmission."

Against this backdrop, a new study published in Risk Analysis, "Reinventing cloth masks in the face of pandemics," by Stephen Salter, P.Eng., describes how Effective Fiber Mask Programs (EFMPs) can help communities find a balance between the economy and curbing community spread.

A separate study by Stadnytskyi, et al. estimates that one minute of loud speaking generates at least 1,000 virion-containing droplets that remain airborne for more than eight minutes. If everyone uses effective masks, the benefit is compounded because each person's mask reduces the number of particles they transmit, and also the number of particles they inhale.

The new study in Risk Analysis suggests that the effectiveness of cloth masks can be improved by using a non-woven material such as cotton batting. Increasing the surface area of fibers exposed to moving air improves filtering efficiency because the smaller particles are absorbed onto the fibers. In May and June of 2020, 17 handmade cotton batting masks underwent 35 tests using commercial quantitative fit testing equipment to determine their filtering effectiveness. The results showed average filtering effectiveness of 76 to 90 percent against aerosol particles.

If an Effective Fiber Mask (EFM) costs $6 and can be used 30 times for four hours each, the cost per hour of use would be $0.05. Another study, by Abaluck et al., estimated the value of cloth masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and concluded, "...the benefits of each additional cloth mask worn by the public are conservatively in the $3,000-$6,000 range due to their impact in slowing the spread of the virus." This cost-benefit ratio suggests governments should consider subsidizing the cost of EFMs for the public.

Governments can take a leadership role by rapidly implementing EFMPs to help reduce transmission of COVID-19, according to Salter. To implement an EFMP, a government would set performance standards for cloth masks, invite manufacturers to submit their mask designs for testing, allow manufacturers to label their approved designs, ask or require the public to wear only approved cloth masks, educate the public to use face masks correctly, and encourage manufacturers to continuously improve their designs.

" I am confident Effective Fiber Masks can play an important role in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Every country can rapidly implement an Effective Fiber Mask Program, and I hope leaders will act quickly to reduce suffering in this way."

- Stephen Salter

Source:

Society for Risk Analysis

Journal reference:


Salter, S (2020) Reinventing Cloth Masks in the Face of Pandemics. Risk Analysis. doi.org/10.1111/risa.13602.
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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Graphene-enhanced PPE for COVID-19

10/25/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... ID-19.aspx


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made wearing masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) the new norm to reduce the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus through the air and reduce one's risk of infection.

The worldwide scarcity in the availability of N-95 masks has triggered the use of cloth masks on a large scale. There is also an urgent need for more preventative PPE kits and face masks as COVID-19 is highly infectious, even before the onset of symptoms.

To tackle this need, nanotechnology researchers from Italy have suggested using bidimensional graphene to improve existing PPE kits. Their research is published on the preprint server medRxiv*.

Graphene and its derivatives have been of great interest in recent years due to their interaction with microorganisms. The increased surface area of pristine graphene, one sheet of carbon atoms with the hexagonal arrangement, binds with viruses using hydrogen bonding, electrostatic interaction, or redox reactions. The presence of oxygen groups on graphene oxide makes the surface hydrophilic and stimulates interaction with organic molecules. The graphene derivatives are also capable of SARS-CoV-2 membrane destruction by adsorption of charged lipids.

Functionalization of graphene

The researchers first investigated graphene oxide's (GO) ability in solution to bind and entrap SARS-CoV-2 viral particles by incubating ~105 viral particles/mL with increasing concentrations of GO for 2 hours. Following incubation, solutions were centrifuged, and supernatants were used to incubate VERO (ATCC CCL-81) cells to measure the virus's infectivity. The incubation of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles in suspension with GO dramatically reduced viral infectivity even at the lowest concentration of GO (0.06 mg/mL), as reflected by a decrease in the cytopathic effect of the virus and increased cell survival.

GO also significantly reduced viral particles' load as assessed by immunofluorescent labeling with an anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibody and reduced cellular cytotoxicity as measured by both Crystal violet staining and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release in the supernatant. These data demonstrate that water-soluble GO interacts with SARS-CoV-2 viral particles and reduces viral infectivity in the in vitro live virus model of SARS-CoV-2. They found a low concentration of graphene oxide in suspension reduced the virus's invasion cells.

The virus's entrapment and minimized viral load using graphene oxide prevents the SARS-CoV-2 virus entry that suggests potential application in the PPE kits.

Following this, the efficiency of graphene and GO functionalization on different PPE materials in both cotton and polyurethane were investigated.

The incorporation of graphene and GO in cotton and polyurethane materials upon incubation of the viral suspension when incubated directly or through a filtered medium contributed to a remarkable decrease in the viral infectivity, said the researchers.

The research also showed that the functionalization of graphene and GO also reduced the spread of bacteria after comparing the standard surgical mask materials with the graphene integrated materials.

After visualizing nanomaterials' functionalization under Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) on both cotton and polyurethane materials, the team believes that graphene and GO are highly relevant PPE materials.

The researchers tested the cells' ability to survive and remain unchanged in the presence of graphene and GO materials. They found that graphene and GO are not toxic to cells. As the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known to be excreted via infectious patients, GO offers prospective applications in wastewater plants to reduce the virus's spread in the environment. The ability of graphene functionalized materials to bind nucleic acids and microorganisms makes it possible to identify biomarkers for the prediction of COVID-19 and the development of rapid diagnostic tools.

Facemasks

Three layers are used in the design of surgical face masks for optimal protection. The first layer is for the absorption of sweat and other droplets, the second polar layer for holding microorganisms within the mask, and the third non-polar layer to arrest the escape of fluid to the outer environment. Graphene is well-suited for PPE materials as it can trap fluid to the external environment due to its non-polar nature.

Conclusion

With the wide-spread use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, graphene functionalized PPE materials can help reduce the virus's spread and block the infection. The graphene functionalization in PPE materials provides a broad scope for increasing the face masks' efficiency, thereby contributing to the universal mission of arresting the spread of COVID-19. Graphene and its related nanomaterials offer significant potential in helping in the fight against the global pandemic with many applications ranging from PPE kits to sewage water treatments and novel strategies for diagnostics.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:

Graphene nanoplatelet and Graphene oxide functionalization of face mask materials inhibits infectivity of trapped SARS-CoV-2 Flavio De Maio, Valentina Palmieri, Gabriele Babini, Alberto Augello, Ivana Palucci, Giordano Perini, Alessandro Salustri, Marco De Spirito, Maurizio Sanguinetti, Giovanni Delogu, Laura Giorgia Rizzi, Giulio Cesareo, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Michela Sali, Massimiliano Papi medRxiv 2020.09.16.20194316; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.16.20194316, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 20194316v2
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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Why state mask stockpiling orders are hurting nursing homes, small providers

10/30/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... iders.aspx


Nursing homes, small physician offices and rural clinics are being left behind in the rush for N95 masks and other protective gear, exposing some of the country's most vulnerable populations and their caregivers to COVID-19 while larger, wealthier health care facilities build equipment stockpiles.

Take Rhonda Bergeron, who owns three health clinics in rural southern Louisiana. She said she's been desperate for personal protective equipment since her clinics became COVID testing sites. Her plight didn't impress national suppliers puzzled by her lack of buying history when she asked for 500 gowns. And one supply company allows her only one box of 200 gloves per 30 days for her three clinics. Right now, she doesn't have any large gloves on-site.

"So in the midst of the whole world shutting down, you can't get PPE to cover your own employees," she said. "They're refilling stuff to larger corporations when realistically we are truly the front line here."

More than eight months into the pandemic, health care leaders are again calling for a coordinated national strategy to distribute personal protective equipment to protect health care workers and their patients as a new wave of disease wells up across most of the country. The demand for such gear, especially in hot spots, can be more than 10 times the pre-pandemic levels. While supply chains have adjusted, and the availability of PPE has improved dramatically since the mayhem of the spring, limited factories and quantities of raw materials still constrain supply amid the ongoing high demand.

In this free-market scramble, larger hospitals and other providers are stockpiling what they can even while others struggle. Some facilities are scooping up supplies to prepare for a feared wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations; others are following new stockpiling laws and orders in states such as California, New York and Connecticut.

"They're putting additional strain on what's still a fragile hospital supply chain," said Soumi Saha, vice president of advocacy for Premier Inc., a group-purchasing organization that procures supplies for over 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems of various sizes. "We want available product to go to front-line health care workers and not go into a warehouse right now."

Over a quarter of nursing homes in the country reported a shortage of items such as N95 masks, gloves or gowns from Aug. 24 through Sept. 20. A recent survey from the American Medical Association found 36% of physician offices reported having a difficult time securing PPE. And about 90% of nonprofit Get Us PPE's recent requests for help with protective gear have come from non-hospital facilities, such as nursing homes, group homes and homeless shelters.

"I can completely understand that large health systems don't want to find themselves short on PPE," said Dr. Ali Raja, co-founder of Get Us PPE and executive vice chairman of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Smaller places simply not only can't stockpile but also can't get enough for their day-to-day usage."

From the outset of the pandemic, the fight for PPE has been about who has had the most money and connections to fly supplies in from China, sweet-talk suppliers or hire people who could spend their time chasing down PPE. At various points, hospitals with sufficient supplies have shared their wealth, as has California, which sent millions of masks to Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Alaska this summer.

But the fight for PPE is becoming even more challenging as states, such as California, pass stockpiling requirements, Saha said. Premier asked California Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto a bill that requires hospitals, starting in April, to have stockpiles of three months' worth of PPE, or face $25,000 fines. However, Newsom signed the bill into law in September, and Saha worries it could become model legislation for other states.

For an average hospital, a 90-day supply is $2 million worth of equipment filling about 14 truckloads, said Chaun Powell, Premier's group vice president of strategic supplier engagement — or about a football field and a half of warehouse space.

Traditional supply chains were ill equipped to handle the onslaught of demand caused by the pandemic, which has led to the frantic search for PPE. When distributors face such shortages, they rely on past orders to allocate who gets what share of their existing products, so no single buyer buys up everything. Nursing homes and clinics never used this much protective gear in the past, so they lack an ordering history and get put at the back of the line. That has forced many of them to rely on lower-grade masks like KN95s and other workarounds, Saha said.

Shortages of PPE put facilities' workers and patients at risk, while also limiting their ability to treat their communities. At least 1,300 U.S. health care workers have died of COVID-19.

In Kirksville, a college town in northern Missouri, Twin Pines Adult Care Center Administrator Jim Richardson said his nursing home is running low on gowns. It also is reusing N95s after staffers treat them with UV light. Although major medical supplier Medline Industries has supplied him with extra products at times, he's still had to turn to eBay.

"I'm a little-bitty facility and I'm bidding against a Life Care nationwide," he said. "Guess who Medline is going to take care of?"

COVID-19 cases are rising in Kirksville following the students’ return to campus, Richardson said. Visitors are starting to return to the nursing home, and flu season is beginning.

Dr. Michael Wasserman, immediate past president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, said the lack of supplies for smaller providers like nursing homes speaks to the nation's priorities when it comes to caring for older adults.

"Here we are in October, and the fact that there is not an abundance of PPE for every nursing home in the country is a literal abomination," he said. "Without PPE, you lose to this virus."

Stuart Almer, president and CEO of Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, has managed to scavenge the 60-day stockpile required by New York state law for his facility on Long Island, but it's come at a great financial cost. And he worries that as long as hot spots and stockpiling persist, massive price fluctuations and delivery concerns will continue.

He learned early on no one was coming to save him. Even deliveries from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which he appreciated, were too small in quantity and not always easy to use. The heavy floor-length gowns it provided needed to be trimmed.

"Really, we're on our own," he said.

American Medical Association President Dr. Susan Bailey said in an emailed statement that federal officials need to step in: "We urge the administration to pull every lever to ramp up PPE production — for N95 masks, gowns, and testing supplies — and coordinate distribution."

Get Us PPE's Raja argued for a more fair, robust, centralized and transparent allocation process that doesn't rely on donations to fill gaps. What good does it do a community to have a hospital stockpile, he asked, when the nursing home down the street has no PPE?
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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Zinc-embedded polyamide fabrics are effective in absorbing and inactivating SARS-CoV-2

11/4/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... CoV-2.aspx


An international team of scientists has recently demonstrated that zinc-embedded polyamine fibers can effectively absorb and inactivate human respiratory viruses, including influenza A virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Thus, a face mask or other personal protective equipment (PPE) made from this fiber is expected to provide better protection against viral transmission. The study is currently available on the bioRxiv* preprint server.

Since the emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in late December 2019, the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus has infected nearly 48 million people and claimed more than 1.22 million lives globally. Until the development of specific therapeutics or vaccines, proper implementation of non-pharmacological measures, such as wearing face masks or the use of other PPE, frequently washing/sanitizing hands, and movement restrictions, are believed to be the best possible way to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Although face masks can protect the respiratory system from direct viral infection, viruses can remain active for hours on the PPE surface. In such circumstances, there is always a risk of further viral transmission if the PPE/face mask is not discarded appropriately after use.

In the current study, the scientists aimed to construct a special type of zinc-embedded fabric and determine its efficacy in absorbing and inactivating human respiratory viruses, such as influenza A virus and SARS-CoV-2. Several studies have shown that metals, such as copper and zinc, are effective in inactivating viruses. This is most likely because of metal ions' ability to trigger RNA hydrolysis, membrane disruption, or viral protein degradation.

Current study design

The scientists tested the virus-absorbing ability of different fabrics, including cotton, polyamide 66, and polypropylene. Also, they checked whether zinc ions embedded in the fabrics are capable of inactivating viruses.

Important observations


The ability of fabrics to absorb viruses depends on many factors, such as hydrophobicity, breathability, and electrostaticity. To determine the correlation between moisture retention and virus absorption abilities of fabrics, the scientists sequentially applied liquid samples containing influenza A virus and SARS-CoV-2 to cotton, polyamide 66, and polypropylene. After 30 minutes of incubation, they checked the liquid retention and virus absorption ability of the fabrics. According to the study findings, cotton and polyamide fabrics retained more liquid and absorbed more viruses than the polypropylene fabric. However, in terms of removing the virus from the fabrics, cotton was found to be less favorable than polyamide fabrics. This indicates that face masks or PPE prepared from cotton or polyamide would be more effective in trapping respiratory viruses.

As an embedding metal, they chose zinc over copper because of the relatively higher zinc tendency to be ionized. This makes zinc rapidly available for reaction. For further experiments, they embedded zinc oxide in the polyamide 66 polymer and checked its ability to inactivate the influenza A virus and SARS-CoV-2. According to the study findings, zinc ions significantly reduced the viral titer by destabilizing viral surface proteins, such as hemagglutinin and spike protein. Furthermore, they observed that the maximum reduction in viral titer occurred between 30 seconds and 5 minutes of viral incubation with zinc-embedded polyamide fabric.

Notably, the scientists observed that the zinc-embedded polyamide fabric can effectively inactivate a wide range of viral loads and that the inactivation rate can beat the amount of infectious virus expelled by a cough.

The study significance

The study findings indicate that face masks or other PPE prepared from zinc-embedded polyamide fibers can provide better protection against highly infectious respiratory viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus. The study also suggests that cotton masks with higher virus-absorbing and lower virus-releasing abilities may actually increase the risk of viral infection if reused without proper washing. Similarly, polypropylene-based masks with lower virus absorption ability may accelerate viral transmission.

*Important Notice


bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:


bioRxiv preprint server. 2020. Gopal V. Zinc-embedded fabrics inactivate SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 2.365833v2
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

Post by trader32176 »

How Escalating COVID Cases Forced One State to Change Its Masking Strategy

11/6/20


https://khn.org/news/how-escalating-cov ... -strategy/

In Montana’s conservative Flathead County, prosecutors and local leaders were turning a blind eye to businesses that flouted state mask and social distancing mandates, even as the area’s COVID infections climbed to their highest levels.

When asked during an Oct. 7 press call from Montana’s capital city whether the state would step in, Gov. Steve Bullock said it was up to the locals to enforce the directives.

“I’ve never met anyone in Flathead County, especially Flathead government, that has asked me to take over their government,” Bullock said with a laugh. “It can’t all be solved from Helena.”

Just two weeks later, the Democratic governor, who was also running for the U.S. Senate, pivoted. He announced the state was taking five Flathead businesses to court for violating COVID-related mandates, asking a judge to order them to comply or close their doors.

While the state’s public mask mandate has been in place since July, enforcement had been left to local governments that largely lack the resources or the political will to do so. It’s an issue seen across the nation as public health decisions to curb the coronavirus are resisted by local leaders, business owners and individuals who are sick of pandemic rules — or too broke to continue them — or who question the state’s authority to issue them in the first place.

Yet rising caseloads have forced an evolution in the efforts to persuade people to mask up. When appealing to people’s better nature and sense of community didn’t work, Montana officials began a steady escalation: adding in guilt, then public shaming, and now attempts to punish. Still, there’s little evidence that minds are being changed, and a new Republican governor-elect, Greg Gianforte, will take over in January after campaigning more on “personal responsibility” than on state-issued mandates.

In June, Montana tried the soft approach with state public service announcements, including a video with a cowboy lassoing a calf, a hunter walking through a field and a child smiling in her mom’s arms.

“Montanans are independent. We’re also responsible, protective and committed to our families and communities,” the voiceover says before the scene cuts to a gray-haired couple wearing masks. “That’s why we’ve done so well against COVID-19.”

The ad aired June 11, a day that Montana reported 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As the state gradually reopened in the summer, cases began to climb, with the daily peak reaching 200 cases in July.

In the fall came the guilt trips: Hospital administrators joined the governor’s weekly press call on Sept. 30 through video conferencing and talked about overstretched resources and staffers who were exhausted by people choosing not to follow health guidelines. The new COVID case count the day of that September press conference was 423.

Meanwhile, Bullock rebuffed a White House Coronavirus Task Force recommendation to implement fines for mask noncompliance that month. Government regulation alone wouldn’t stop the virus, he said, adding, “We do things the Montana way here.”

Still, cases increased.

At the beginning of October, Bullock tried public shaming. He called out counties, including Flathead, for not enforcing mandates.

Then, after rising COVID cases put Montana among the states with the nation’s highest rates of new infections per capita, the state shifted from guiding voice to plaintiff on Oct. 22, a day after the state reported 924 new cases.

“We know how quickly this virus spreads and, as Montanans, we should always put the health of our own employees, friends and neighbors first,” Bullock said. “If businesses come into compliance, we’ll gladly drop the enforcements.”

So far, state officials have said those measures are reserved for the most egregious repeat offenders and are not a new standard.

Across the state, local officials and tribal nations are watching how far this new level of enforcement will stretch. Some have said they don’t have the means to drive enforcement alone.

Bullock has said financial aid is available for counties to educate businesses that don’t follow coronavirus health standards and, if needed, to file complaints about virus-related violations. As of Nov. 2, seven counties had followed up on that offer.

But some county health officials say more help is needed.

“We’ve done all the education we can,” said Clay Vincent of the Hill County Health Department. “We can collect all the complaints in the world, we can talk to people, we can yell at people in businesses. But then it has to go to the county attorney’s office for any type of enforcement after that, and that’s where it has stopped.”

In that county of roughly 16,000 on the Canadian border, some businesses have posted signs proclaiming the right not to wear a mask. Vincent said those stores are in the minority but noted they offer essential services like gas and food.

Health department investigations filed with the county attorney haven’t prompted enforcement of the mask mandate, Vincent said. So health officials are considering their own signs, announcing the establishment is refusing to comply with state rules to protect its employees and customers. Vincent hopes such public shaming leads to change. The county attorney’s office declined to comment and directed all questions back to the health department.

Across Montana, some businesses continue to skirt COVID rules. Last month, as Bullock announced the Flathead County court cases, he urged people to report other businesses that violate COVID restrictions via the state health department’s consumer complaint website. Within four days, more than 1,000 complaints poured in from 40 of Montana’s 56 counties.

Bullock has said the state will track the most egregious repeat offenders, though no thresholds are set for what would trigger state enforcement. Meanwhile, the site turns the complaints over to county health departments.

Tribal nations have the power to invoke emergency rules on reservations, but enforcement is another issue, even as Native Americans in Montana face disproportionately high rates of COVID hospitalizations and deaths. Some have taken steps to isolate their communities, such as Blackfeet Nation leaders’ decision to close their border with Glacier National Park. But that’s not so easy on some reservations. For instance, the Flathead Reservation overlaps four counties, and members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are in the minority.

“It’s unfortunate, because we as the Flathead Nation don’t have that ultimate authority in enforcement,” said Tribal Council Chair Shelly Fyant. “So we’re trying to appeal to people’s hearts from a cultural perspective.”

The tribal nation has focused its efforts on a campaign to use music, art and videos to sway people to wear a mask for the protection of those vulnerable to a risky COVID infection, especially elders.

Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner said he hasn’t sought injunctions against businesses yet because he hasn’t seen proof that a store’s lack of mask use led to COVID cases. The mask mandate is intended to reduce spread, however, not penalize those who cause cases after the fact.

The Flathead County District Court denied the state’s request for temporary restraining orders ahead of court hearings for the businesses that allegedly overlooked mask mandates. Ahner said that shows state enforcement isn’t as simple as the governor saying he made a rule and everyone needs to follow it. Legal experts across the nation have said states have the authority to take public health emergency actions.

Some of the Flathead cases are scheduled for hearings this month. Whitefish, a destination ski town in Flathead County, didn’t want to wait and see whether the state or county would force businesses into line. The city council approved a temporary order tightening COVID restrictions over the Halloween weekend to prevent superspreader events. That created a way for the city to issue fines of up to $500 for businesses out of compliance.

“This has been pushed into our laps,” said city council member Steve Qunell. “It’s our turn to take leadership on this.”

But the city has yet to pass long-term rules to keep that power as it continues to weigh how to take on what much of the state hasn’t figured out.
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

Post by trader32176 »

Daylight exposure can disinfect a special type of cotton face mask

11/11/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... -mask.aspx


During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have become accustomed to wearing cotton face masks in public places. However, viruses and bacteria that stick to the mask could be transferred elsewhere when the wearer removes or touches it. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces have developed a special type of cotton face mask that kills up to 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses within 60 minutes of daylight exposure.

Face masks made of various cloth materials can filter nanoscale aerosol particles -- such as those released by a cough or sneeze -- potentially helping to reduce the spread of diseases, including COVID-19. But live bacteria and viruses on the surface of the mask could still be contagious. Peixin Tang, Gang Sun, Nitin Nitin and colleagues wanted to develop a new cotton fabric that would release reactive oxygen species (ROS) when exposed to daylight, killing microbes attached to the fabric's surfaces while being washable, reusable and safe for the wearer.

Then, a person could disinfect their cloth mask during their lunch hour outside in the sun, or by spending a longer period of time under office or building lights, which are much less intense than sunlight.

The researchers made their antimicrobial fabrics by attaching positively charged chains of 2-diethylaminoethyl chloride (DEAE-Cl) to ordinary cotton. Then, they dyed the modified cotton in a solution of a negatively charged photosensitizer (a compound that releases ROS upon exposure to light), which attached to the DEAE chains by strong electrostatic interactions.

The team found that a fabric made with a dye called rose Bengal as the photosensitizer killed 99.9999% of bacteria added to the fabric within 60 minutes of daylight exposure and inactivated 99.9999% of T7 bacteriophage -- a virus thought to be more resistant to ROS than some coronaviruses -- within 30 minutes. Further testing showed that the material could be handwashed at least 10 times and constantly exposed to daylight for at least 7 days without losing its antimicrobial activity. The fabric shows promise for making reusable, antibacterial/antiviral cloth face masks and protective suits, the researchers say.
trader32176
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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Face Mask Technologies

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States’ face-covering mandates leave gaps in protection

11/19/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... ction.aspx


Brady Bowman, a 19-year-old student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and two friends strolled down 11th Street, all sporting matching neck gaiters branded with the Thomas' English Muffins logo. He had received an entire box of the promotional gaiters.

He thinks they are just more comfortable to wear than a face mask. "Especially a day like today, where it's cold out," he said, with the top of his gaiter pulled down below his chin.

More stylish? Perhaps. More comfortable? Maybe. But as effective? Not necessarily.

With states such as Colorado requiring face coverings indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, gaiters and bandannas have become popular accessories, particularly among college students and other young adults. Less restrictive than masks, they can easily be pulled up or down as needed — and don't convey that just-out-of-the-hospital vibe.

But tests show those hipper face coverings are not as effective as surgical or cloth face masks. Bandannas, like plastic face shields, allow the virus to escape out the bottom in aerosolized particles that can hang in the air for hours. And gaiters are often made of such thin material that they don't trap as much virus as cloth masks.

As new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths surge upward heading into winter, many public health experts wonder whether it's time to move beyond the anything-goes approach toward more standardization and higher-quality masks. President-elect Joe Biden reportedly is mulling a national face-covering mandate of some sort, which could not only increase mask-wearing but better define for Americans what sort of face covering would be most protective.

"Unlike seat belts, condoms or other prevention strategies, we have not yet standardized what we are recommending for the public," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California-San Francisco. "And that has been profoundly confusing for the American public, to have all these masks on the market."

Patchwork of regulations

Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets that contain the coronavirus. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that masks not only help prevent people from infecting others but help protect the wearers from infection as well.

According to a recent analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, implementing universal mask-wearing in late September would have saved nearly 130,000 American lives by the end of February.

Even so, many Americans still aren't wearing masks. And in some states, they haven't been required to do so.

At least 37 states and the District of Columbia have mandated face coverings but show wide variation in defining what qualifies. States such as Maryland and Rhode Island include bandannas or neck gaiters in their definitions, while South Carolina and Michigan do not, according to a KHN review of the orders. Some spell out the circumstances in which coverings must be worn or establish enforcement policies.

But according to Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University law professor, many states are not holding residents to those rules. Some state or local officials are choosing not to enforce them.

"We have a patchwork of inconsistent rules and laws around the country," Gostin said. "And when we are dealing with a nationwide pandemic, a patchwork just won't get the job done."

Cloth mask manufacturing was nearly nonexistent in the U.S. before the pandemic, so public health officials opted early in the year to stress the importance of wearing any face covering rather than trying to focus on one standard. As a result, Americans are wearing a hodgepodge of coverings, from home-sewn to commercial versions, with various levels of protection.

And what is worn matters. Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, an infectious disease specialist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said face coverings generally fall into three categories of effectiveness. N95 masks (not those with valves), surgical masks and well-made cloth masks (constructed of tightly woven material, folded over two or three times, and properly covering the mouth and nose) are in the highly effective category.

Bandannas, neck gaiters and face shields lie at the other end of the spectrum, and most everything else falls in the middle.

"Bandannas are typically a thinner material, so if they're not doubled or tripled up, that can allow respiratory droplets, in particular, to move through the masks," he said. "But the fact that they're open along the bottom of the mouth and neck, if they're not tucked into a shirt or something like that, also allows for a lot of that exhalation droplet to escape around the mask and become airborne."

A plastic face shield can block larger droplets but won't stop aerosolized particles from flowing beyond its edges.

The evidence around neck gaiters has been mixed, in part because so many materials and designs are used. But recent testing suggests even the thin material commonly used to make gaiters is nearly as effective as a cloth mask if doubled over.

"With few exceptions, the best mask is the mask that somebody is going to use regularly and consistently," Gonsenhauser said. "It may be that the best technical mask is not going to be the mask that everybody's going to be willing to wear all the time."

Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have found most of the commercially produced cloth masks block 40% to 60% of droplets, approaching the effectiveness of surgical masks.

"You can't possibly test everything, but certainly one take-home message is that anything is better than nothing," said William Lindsley, a NIOSH biomedical engineer. "We haven't tested anything that has not worked."

Call for standardization

But Gandhi believes it's time to raise the standards for masks, ramp up the production of disposable surgical masks and encourage, if not order, Americans to wear them. Early in the pandemic, the Trump administration reportedly considered sending masks to every American but ultimately decided against it.

Taiwan, on the other hand, invested in manufacturing and distributing surgical masks, and it has one of the lowest COVID death counts in the world: fewer than 10 deaths in a country of 24 million people.

"It makes more sense to standardize masks, to mass-produce surgical masks, which are not very expensive," Gandhi said. "We're spending a lot more on everything else."

She said surgical masks might even reduce the severity of COVID-19. Gandhi and several colleagues recently wrote in a medical journal article that evidence suggests the less virus a person is exposed to, the less sick they become.

That's been backed up in tests with lab animals exposed to the coronavirus and with humans exposed to other, less dangerous respiratory viruses.

Other evidence also supports that theory. While the CDC estimates about 40% of COVID cases are asymptomatic, outbreaks in food processing plants where workers were handed surgical or N95 masks as they entered showed a much higher proportion of infected workers never developed symptoms. That could explain why many Asian countries, where mask-wearing has been a cultural norm for decades, have been able to reopen their economies without seeing death rates as high as in the United States.

"Tokyo is a good example. It's wide open, the people are walking around shoulder to shoulder, people are going to offices, people are going to school," Gandhi said. "But they're all masked and they have very low rates of severe illness."

If she's right, a national mandate calling for surgical masks could both reduce transmission and prevent serious disease.

"We can't wait," Gandhi said. "We've had enough deaths from this infection. Our case fatality rates in a country of this degree of development are just tragic."

It remains to be seen whether Americans will be more willing to wear dowdier, less comfortable but more effective masks to protect themselves and others. When Bowman, the Boulder college student, was asked if he was worried that his gaiter might not block as much of the virus as a face mask, he seemed unconcerned.

"As long as the other person is wearing a mask," he said.
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Re: Face Mask Technologies

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MyMaskFit receives Innovate UK funding to produce custom-fitted, medical grade facemasks

11/23/20


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201 ... masks.aspx


A company working with experts from the University of Birmingham and King's College London has been awarded funding by Innovate UK to produce custom-fitted, reusable, medical grade facemasks that will fit all people regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.

MyMaskFit will focus on producing masks at FFP3 standard, which filter 99% of aerosols. The FFP3 standard is recommended in healthcare settings where there is a risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The masks will be the first fully custom-fitted, reusable, filtering face piece (FFP) masks made to this standard in the UK.

The issue of mask fit is critically important in healthcare settings, where an adequate seal is required between the mask and the face. Yet the wide variations in mask design and the inevitable variation in the shape of human faces, mean that this fit can be difficult to achieve, and when healthcare staff find a mask that fits, it may not be available at the next round of supply.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham and King's College London recognised these issues at the outset of the UK lockdown, and started a collaboration that brought together expertise in facial imaging, skin interfacing devices and 3D printing.

Starting in April, this intensive project involved Professor Liam Grover, Director of the Healthcare Technologies Institute at the University of Birmingham, Dr Sophie Cox, Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Technologies, University of Birmingham, and Professor Owen Addison, Chair of Oral Rehabilitation, and Dr Trevor Coward, Reader in Maxillofacial & Craniofacial Rehabilitation, at King's College London.

Supported by the EPSRC as part of the UKRI COVID-19 response, the combined team rapidly produced a promising prototype for a customised mask seal to reduce exposure risk and fitting time, while also improving comfort for professionals who need to wear FFP masks all day, every day. Both universities filed patent applications during the course of the project, and the rights to these patents are being licensed to MyMaskFit.

MyMaskFit will now take the product through regulatory approval and bring it to market to meet the growing demand for FFP3 masks. The first masks will be manufactured in Swansea, Wales.

Paul Perera of MyMaskFit, who conceptualised the project, commented:

" MyMaskFit is bringing clinical knowledge, chemistry and manufacturing engineering expertise. The company is working with technology partners in the spirit of the UK's Ventilator Challenge to accelerate the pace of innovation and development so we can supply the NHS and care homes with masks that fit their workers, who will be able to use a mobile device to scan their face, and receive a mask within 24 hours."

A rapid scale-up of manufacturing operations is already planned, and will involve manufacturing partners, including cloud collaboration tools from design and manufacturing software company Autodesk.

Commenting on the news, Asif Moghal, Senior Industry Manager, Design and Manufacturing at Autodesk added, "It's critical that the industry comes together to tackle the pandemic, so we're delighted to be supporting this project and the impact it will have to our key workers around the world."

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport in the Welsh Government said: "I am immensely proud of the way Wales' manufacturing sector has responded with agility and innovation to what has been and continues to be an incredibly challenging time. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, firms across the country have stepped up to help ensure our healthcare heroes have the essential equipment they need to do their jobs and ultimately save lives. I want to thank each and every one of them, and I welcome the fact MyMaskFit is working to produce an original, environmentally-friendly product which will further contribute to these efforts."

MyMaskFit plans to make technology behind the mask available to developing countries. It will be assisted in this by the Emergent Alliance, a not-for profit collaboration consisting of large corporates, individuals, NGOs and Governments that aims to build economic resilience in the post-COVID world.

Dr James Wilkie, CEO University of Birmingham Enterprise, which filed the Birmingham patents, said "This is a fantastic example of bringing university research ideas to market quickly so they can improve people's lives as soon as possible."

Professor Owen Addison said:

" Both UKRI's rapid support of COVID-19 responsive projects and outstanding collegial working environment between universities, industry and policy makers during this difficult time is enabling the early translation of this work which can deliver real benefit to the point of greatest need."
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