Due to the shortage of N95 masks, we have to consider using equally effective alternate options. N95 is a certification issued by US authorities. Masks that have equally effective properties as N95 masks go by different names in different countries based on their independent certification systems. (KN95 – China, P2 – AS/NZ, 1st Class – Korea, DS FFRs – Japan). Considering the life and death situation we face in the hospitals, we have to push our health care administrators to consider getting us these equally effective alternative options since N95s are not available. At the end of the day, we have to prioritize our patient’s health, our health and our families health.
I am an internal medicine physician, and I am exposed to patients under investigation (PUI) for COVID 19. Lack of appropriate PPE is putting me at high risk for contracting the virus. This is in turn putting my family and other sick patients I see at risk.
Chasing chasing, we know that the N95 mask is a PPE suitable for healthcare providers. At present, the supply of N95 cannot meet the demand. Reasonably priced N95 masks cannot be ordered in bulk until at least late April 2020 or May 2020. Considering our health and our family's health, first use a reasonably priced KN95 mask.
Now, if you do not have access to N95, can you use equally effective alternative options KN95 mask in the US hospitals/private practices/providers? Isn’t using these alternative options better than using a “bandana” or a regular surgical mask or a handmade cloth mask?
There are more than a few N95 equivalent masks available worldwide. As per a comparison study performed by 3M – it is reasonable to consider China KN95, AS/NZ P2, Korea 1st Class, and Japan DS FFRs as “equivalent” to US NIOSH N95 and European FFP2 respirators, for filtering non-oil-based particles such as those resulting from wildfires, PM 2.5 air pollution, volcanic eruptions, or bioaerosols (e.g. viruses).
These kn95 masks have similar superior properties as N95, but they go by different names based on where they are certified.
The WHO (World Health Organizations) considers N95 equivalent to KN95 mask and other similar masks. (WHO Article 1. WHO Article 2.)
Although the US authorities recommend using N95 masks, we have to take into account the current situation, and act accordingly. We need to prioritize the safety of our patients, families, and ourselves.
All of us should keep in touch with our respective hospital / private practice leaders to promote and advocate the use of equally effective KN95 mask replacements.
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