NEWS RELEASE                                                                                     November 2020

Billions of Masks Needed to Achieve Herd Immunity

A combination of masks and vaccinations can create herd immunity quickly. It will be a combination of CATE, surgical and medium efficiency cloth masks. It will not include inefficient cloth masks.

Because CATE masks are tight flitting, efficient, comfortable and attractive they will be 93% effective where utilized. It was determined that only 1 mask would be needed per quarter due to reusability.  This will be the most cost-effective option. 


The surgical masks have high filtration efficiency but lots of leakage. The assumption is that the usage will be just one per day or 90 per quarter. To meet the needs of the world on July 1 2021 with 20% of the 6 billion active people vaccinated there would be a demand for 378 billion masks per quarter. This reduces to just under 38 billion by July of 2022. Since meltblowns are typically used in surgical masks and there is a big investment and delay in building new melt blown lines it is very unlikely that the suppliers would or could gear up for a market which will peak in the next year and then shrink substantially.


The cloth masks range in efficiency. In the example below we have selected relatively efficient designs. Many would have a 90% inefficiency rating. We have selected reusable masks in the $15-30 price range.  Even with a 51% inefficiency rating it would not be possible to achieve herd immunity with only 20% of the people vaccinated. You would need to mask 102% of the active population.


Herd immunity could be achieved by July 2022 if 10% of the active people are wearing cloth masks and 65% are protected through vaccinations. However of the 5% who are not vaccinated, probably half are in fear of side effects. These people will be ones who will want CATE masks rather than cloth masks because of the higher protection.

Because of the huge immediate needs quick herd immunity will only take place with some mix of CATE, Surgical, and Cloth masks. But it is achievable. The Biden Administration is considering a mask mandate. Many countries already have them. The problem is that without specifying effectiveness some people are wearing masks which provide almost no protection.

One way to achieve herd immunity would be to specify CATE masks for those who are at most risk and allow surgical and cloth masks for others. However, for those masks with lower effectiveness some specification must be set. It should be some combination of maximum  penetration plus leakage. Europe has some community mask specifications set around 80% efficient media. However without fit being included the specifications are inadequate.

The requirements can be based on expected load factors. CATE masks could be required in subways and theaters. Lower efficiency levels could be allowed for walking suburban streets or in grocery stores which have HEPA filtration and laminar air flow at checkout counters. This means that people may carry several masks and use the one appropriate for the setting.

The requirements can be synchronized with the production capabilities of suppliers. If the guidelines are set appropriately, we could have herd immunity in six months and save many hundreds of thousands of lives.

Details on mask technology and performance are included in Coronavirus Technology Solutions Click here for more information