NEWS RELEASE September 2020
Filters, Masks and Media Production to Best Deal with COVID
As of September 15 there have been 31 million cases of Coronavirus and 1 million deaths. The healthcare, economic, and life quality cost of each death have been estimated by McIlvaine as $20 million each. So the cost is $20 trillion.
The same set of costs for each of the 30 million cases which do not end in death is estimated at $0.5 million. This is a cost to date of $15 trillion.
Air pollution both indoor and outdoor is estimated to kill as many as 7 million people per year. But many of these people are older. EPA has used $10 million for each death based on Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) McIlvaine uses Quality Enhanced Life Days (QELD) to take into account social costs and benefits.
The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, annual influenza epidemics result in about 3-5 million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths per year. Approximately 1 billion people per year are infected.
An efficient mask program for 3 billion people at $100/person/yr would cost $300 billion/yr. Upgrading HVAC systems could cost $200/person/yr or $600 billion/yr. Wearing masks has significant life quality costs but filters have none.
If everyone wore efficient masks 50 percent of the lives could be saved. 500,000 lives could be saved in 2021 for a benefit of $10 trillion. The Director of the CDC last week favorably compared masks to vaccines.
There will be a $15.5 trillion value in using high efficiency masks next year. This is based on the entire world population properly wearing masks.
The value would decrease in future years. Assuming vaccines reduce the value substantially there could be a negative value in 2024. One reason is the substantial life quality costs of wearing a mask continuously. But this can be an opportunity for more expensive, comfortable and fashionable masks. Fashion over rides comfort as witnessed by the popularity of hoodies
When air pollution and influenza benefits are added there is a net benefit through 2024 and beyond. The total in 2024 is only $190 billion. Since the world population is 7.8 billion this is only $24 per person. This is a relatively small benefit compared to $1900 per person in 2021.
The installation of efficient air filters does not have the same immediate value but there is little life quality reduction. In fact people can think of clean air the way they do bottled water.
In 2021 the filters would have a $2 trillion value which is substantial but much less than the $15 trillion of the high efficiency masks.
Given limited supply capacity for media the emphasis should initially be on the mask media. High efficiency air filter investments can be segmented over time and eventually generate the $1.7 trillion/yr benefit.
Some of the meltblown and nanofiber media used for masks in 2021 and 2022 can be used for high efficiency air filters in subsequent years.
This scenario does not consider a concerted effort by the filtration industry to convince people of the benefits of masks and filters. It does not take into account innovations to make masks more comfortable.
Because of the extraordinary benefits of masks next year, there needs to be an incentive for companies to produce the requisite number of high efficiency masks. Governments are buying and distributing masks. If they are willing to commit to a standard price for 2021 which is high enough to justify production investments with a short payback period the industry would make the investment.
The air pollution and flu benefits should justify a market continuing at a high level. However if mask making machinery is depreciated over two years, the investment will be profitable. Another way to increased profits and revenue is to switch to manufacture of higher quality, more comfortable and attractive masks. In future years when air pollution is a larger percentage of the risk valved masks can become an attractive option. It should be customary for people to have multiple masks of different designs. They can switch types depending on the circumstances.
The media manufacturers can switch back and forth between mask and other media. So there is little risk of over expansion.
The value of filters remains substantial even if with a greatly reduced COVID threat.
If the filtration industry can make this case to the public and to governments it can be the solution to the COVID and other health problems.