The largest maker of respirator masks – 3M, is willing to comply with the order of the United States president Donald Trump of manufacturing and supplying of more needed N95 masks that are critically needed in the country, the company said on Sunday. However the company also sounded a caution about not being allowed to export those masks to other parts of the world where there is demand for such masks to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“3M and its employees have gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the US market,” the company said on a statement a day after the Defense Production Act (DPA) was invoked by Trump which effectively forced 3M to significantly ramp up production of N95 respirators.
According to the mandate of the DPA, 3M will also have to now prioritize orders for respirators that are given to it by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The company said that while it was also increasing the import of masks from its supply chain and manufacturing facilities spread all across the world – including those in China, it also announced that it was working in close coordination with the administration to supply more masks to FEMA.
The company however opposed the additional request by the Trump administration of stopping export of the respirators that are made in the US to Canada and to Latin America.
“There are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” the statement said. The company added that such a move would “likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same.”
The ultimate result of the action could lead to a reduction in the net number of respirators being made available to the United States, the company warned.
“That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek,” the company said.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, warnings of fraud and price gouging have been issued by some of the leading N95 mask manufacturers.
3M said that while a large influx of counterfeit respirators into the American market has not been noticed by it, the company is now more concerned about fraudsters who claim to have masks that they don’t actually have, and collect money for such imaginary mask collections.
In order to curb the problem of price gouging, 3M said it is working with the U.S. Attorney General William Barr and attorneys general of every state. The company also said that it has informed the authorities that it hasn’t, and will not, increase price of the respirators unless otherwise absolutely necessary.
(Adapted from CNN.com)