Since the begin of the pandemic, CBP has seized greater than 34 million counterfeit masks, most of them modeled to resemble N95 or KN95 masks. Around 20 million of these masks had been caught in 2021, stated John Leonard, appearing govt assistant commissioner of the company’s Office of Trade.

“The mask is really the most visible symbol of this pandemic,” Leonard advised NCS. “[Counterfeiters] look into taking advantage of this situation.”

The counterfeit masks resemble N95 respirators, thought-about the simplest masks in stopping coronavirus transmission, however do not provide the similar stage of safety, Leonard stated. They could be lacking some of the parts that make N95 masks so efficient, equivalent to headbands to take care of a sealed match.
NCS reported in February that the company had seized 14 million counterfeit masks from the beginning of the pandemic to the finish of 2020. That month, the quantity of masks officials had been seizing “blew up again,” Leonard stated.

Officials made two notable seizures just lately: In February, greater than 108,000 pretend N95 masks — marketed utilizing 3M’s branding — had been seized in Cincinnati. The subsequent month, CBP discovered 65,000 pretend respirators at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, additionally bearing 3M’s brand.

40 hospitals across Washington state may have received counterfeit N95 masks, officials say40 hospitals across Washington state may have received counterfeit N95 masks, officials say

Counterfeit masks make up most of the seizures, however CBP officers have additionally seized round 180,000 unauthorized Covid-19 checks. Nearly 39,000 chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets had been seized, a measure the company takes when medication are imported into the US with out FDA approval. CBP supplied no particulars on these tablets.

If customers do not know the merchandise are ineffective, they might give customers a “false sense of security,” which may additional coronavirus transmission, CBP stated in a report.

Leonard attributes the uptick in counterfeit seizures to the ongoing demand for masks as the pandemic endures. It’s attainable, as extra of the US inhabitants is vaccinated, that the quantity of counterfeit masks making an attempt to enter the US will fall, Leonard stated, based mostly on client demand.

Masks will nonetheless be a component of American life, whilst thousands and thousands extra individuals are vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages individuals who’ve been vaccinated to proceed to put on masks and keep social distancing once they’re in public. The company is ready to be taught extra about whether or not absolutely vaccinated folks can nonetheless transmit coronavirus to others who aren’t vaccinated.

How to separate actual masks from the imitators

There are methods to delineate the actual factor from imitators.

(*20*)Fake masks could have the following, in response to the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

  • No NIOSH approval. NIOSH solely certifies facepiece respirators like N95 masks in the event that they filter at the least 95% of particles. Without NIOSH approval, you’ll be able to’t make sure your masks is equally protecting.
  • Ear loops. A real N95 masks has headbands as a substitute of ear loops, which assist the masks kind a seal in opposition to your face.
  • Sequins or different appliques. Per NIOSH, altering an N95 masks in any method may make it much less efficient, and NIOSH does not approve a masks that is been modified or adorned.
  • Other tells: Look for typos in product descriptions or on packaging. Unbelievably low costs could also be too good to be true. And if the vendor says the masks is authorised for youngsters, it is not — NIOSH does not approve N95 masks for youths.
The full list of NIOSH-approved N95 masks is accessible by the CDC.

NCS’s Maria Morava contributed to this report.


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