Hospitals in Washington State were alerted to the presence of fake N95 masks on their shelves and they are now making a good effort at pulling them out. The knockoffs were uncovered after an investigation ensued.
It bewildered hospitals in Washington how fake N95 masks gained entry and ended up on their shelves. The knockoffs had a very close resemblance to the N95 masks that are made by 3M.
The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), informed reporters on Monday that the original 3M masks were in high demand because they come in smaller sizes. They are also comfortable as they fit really snugly around the face.
WSHA estimates that state hospitals were able to acquire around two million fake N95 masks. Out of this number, around 300,000 were distributed by the WSHA to many hospitals. 60,000 of the masks are still stored in WSHA warehouses.
According to FoxNews, 3M wrote an email and informed them that the N95 masks that were purchased by WSHA from distributors with no relationship to 3M are not authentic. The company then recommended for the products to only be purchased from an authorized distributor of 3M.
Cassie Sauer, WSHA's chief executive officer, revealed that the knockoffs look, feel, and fit like a 3M mask. However, it is not yet clear as to what protection the knockoffs provide, but she said that they were encouraged by the lack of increase in cases in hospitals where the knockoffs were used. She also said that people kept on asking them how protective the N95 masks were and that they do not know the answer to the question. However, what they know is that "they're really good fakes."
Sauer, defending the WSHA, said that the agency purchased the masks from distributors and that it believed that what they were buying were 3M masks. Despite this though, people were still angry.
As of Monday afternoon, the WSHA was not yet able to identify the third-party vendor that distributed the fake 3M masks but Homeland Security is investigating it.