Masks have become one of the most important parts of fighting Covid-19, especially for those in the healthcare industry. For these workers, the N95 mask from 3M has been one of the most popular choices, due to its high level of effectiveness. Even as Covid vaccines become more widely available, 3M’s CEO Mike Roman doesn’t expect the demand to wane during the rest of the year.
The medical-grade masks, considered to be the best against infection, have been in constant demand since the pandemic began, which has led to shortages. 3M began to ramp up N95 production back in January of last year, as concerns over the Covid-19 virus began to grow. Even with this, it has been difficult for 3M to keep up with such high demand, especially as cases have risen and hospitals take in more Covid patients.
Roman has said that he believes “demand in our N95 respirator masks [will] be strong as we go through the year.” “We see the demand, the need, from frontline health-care workers and first responders. That’s still our priority. We’re focused on delivering to their demand and also to some critical industries that require that N95 protection.”
3M also believes that demand will remain high due to national governments looking to replenish their stockpiles. In the U.S., the government’s national stockpile of personal protective equipment saved for health care workers was nearly depleted back in August, according to the Associated Press. Purchasing extra masks and other equipment now could help build those stockpiles back up, or at the very least prevent them from fully running out. As for how many N95 masks have been delivered across the globe, 3M estimates they have supplied nearly 2 billion masks in the last year alone.