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Corona Virus Mask Analysis and Forecast

The present pandemic is causing great uncertainly relative to the market for respirators and masks. There is a shortage and prices of masks are rising sharply.  The questions are

  • How big will the market be at its peak?
  • When will that peak occur?
  • Will new and better technology be developed?
  • Will an oversupply lead to low prices during the decline?

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If masks can be developed which have high virus capture without excess pressure drop, then revenues can remain substantially higher than prior to the pandemic even after its subsides.

Why focus on the Coronavirus

This pandemic will not only change the face mask  market in the short term but have lasting effects. The dependence of the rest of the world on Chinese masks is likely to be reduced in the future. Fifty-nine million Americans were victims of swine flu in 2009-10 but only 12,000 died. This is just .02%. The coronavirus is likely to kill more than 0.5%.  If there were the same number of infections 300,000 people would die.  An even higher death rate is likely in less developed countries.  Three thousand people were killed in NYC on 9/11.  Trillions of dollars have been spent to prevent this from happening again. Contagion is avoided by distance. With the acceleration in world travel the effective distance is minimal and diminishing. This makes the challenge much greater.

The high  risk to healthcare personnel will  result in permanent protocols and mask design changes while taking into account comfort needs.

Application Information needed by media and mask suppliers

The use of disposable medical masks designed to minimize contagion by the wearer has to be distinguished from the N95 design masks  which protect the wearer from contaminants including viruses.

  • Where is it appropriate for each design to be used?
  • Where will emotion drive and expand markets beyond rational need (593 million Chinese may each want to wear on the average one mask per day regardless of value)?
  • How often should these masks be replaced?
  • What changes can be made to improve comfort and safety?
  • How can masks be best designed for removal without contamination?
  • How effective are
    • Spun bonded
    • SMS laminates
    • Nanofibers
    • Electrostatically charged media (needle felt with two fiber types)

What are mask protocols for?

  • Individuals who are ill with other types of flu or colds
  • Individuals and family members in 14 day coronavirus isolation
  • Group isolation such as cruise ships
  • Healthcare workers in low risk environments
  • Healthcare workers in high risk environments
    • Waiting and emergency rooms
    • Operating suites
    • Isolation rooms

The industry needs to understand the technology 

  • Can coronavirus survive to travel long distances through the air?
  • Will they survive on mask surfaces and other surfaces and for how long?
  • Relationship of pressure drop, efficiency and breathing ease
  • Are there game changing technologies which will shape future markets?
  • How long does it take to ramp up a new melt blown line (Can ROW match the 1 month time frame in China?)

Market Answers Needed By Media And Mask Suppliers

  • How big is the market in each application and each country?
    • Present
    • Future
  • How big will government stockpiles be in the future (target likely to be above 5 billion)?
  • Who will be the key decision makers?
    • Governmental
    • Organization
    • Individual
  • How much fluctuation in price will occur between times of high demand and lower demand?
  • Will media companies be able to keep up with the needs of the market?
  • Will countries impose import or export restrictions on media or masks?
  • To what extent will purchasers buy the lowest true cost product rather than the one best advertised?
  • Who will be the major competitors for each product in each region?
  • What are the routes to market?
    • Retail
    • Distributor/sales rep
    • OEM
  • How to validate low true cost
    • Magazines
    • Associations and conferences
    • Webinars