‘Kawach’ Masks - An Affordable Alternative to N95 Masks for ordinary people

With the growing corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic, face masks have become an absolute must for all. But the scarcity of N95 masks and their high price has made it difficult for those who need a higher level of protection from obtaining the masks.  In fact, N95 mask are needed the most by doctors and health care workers (HCWs) working with Covid patients, but massive profiteering and hoarding of masks has made them unaffordable.   

 

A bigger problem is that the market has been flooded with spurious N-95 or equivalent masks and people have been paying as much as Rs 395 to Rs500 for them. Moneylife Foundation has been campaigning against this profiteering and our trustee has is also part of a public interest litigation filed in the Bombay High Court.  What are the options for those who need and want better protection? For instance, senior citizens, people with other ailments (called co-morbidities) such as heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, auto immune disease etc?    Our hunt for the right masks, especially affordable ones, led us to the "kawach" manufactured by an IIT Delhi incubated start up called ETEX.   

 

 

ETEX, has been set up by Prof Bipin Kumar and his team from the department of textile and fibre engineering in IIT Delhi. They have designed and manufactured ‘Kawach’ masks as a bio-degradable product, with a multi-layer covering for an optimum 98% filtration against 3 µm (micron) and 90% against 0.3 µm. Stitched using advanced knitting technology, these masks use ultra-soft fibrous lightweight material (less than 15g) to provide maximum comfort to the wearer.  

 

In effect, while the N95 mask stands for 95% filteration against 0.3 micron, this mask provides 90% filteration, which is good enough to provide optimum protection to almost everybody and even healtcare professionals who are not directly working in Covid wards and dealing with Covid patients.  

 

The design is on par with N95 masks, allowing for maximum coverage when worn and the masks have been tested and approved by the South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) using international standards (ASTM F2299, ASTM F2101, IS 16289:2014, ASTM F1862/F1862M-13, 16 CFR Part-1610). Importantly, unlike others, the ‘Kawach’ mask is manufactured from biodegradable materials keeping environmental safety in mind.      

 

Prof Kumar, who is a director of ETEX says, his personal condition was that the individually packed mask would print its MRP and ensure that it is not sold above Rs 45. He says, there was a lot of pressure on the company from potential dealers to avoid printing the price, but their goal is to give the people a high quality mask that is absoltely affordable and safe.   

 

The company has gone through all the challenges typical of a start up, in standardising design and quqlity but it is now catching one and has had to scale up production only after six weeks since it was first launched.    Moneylife Foundation, in its ongoing relief work connected with ETEX to procure and distribute these masks to hospitals across Mumbai. They have been well received and we have repeat requests.   

 

The Kawach masks can be easily purchased online through the official ETEX website or through online retailers such as Amazon, Flipkart and TataCliq.  

 

The startup is currently working on new prototype designs to make the mask washable and reusable at least 10 times. They are also exploring other textile technologies for developing coveralls too.  

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    COMMENTS

    shirish.s

    2 months ago

    Kindly give more information on oximeter and contactless temperature measuring instrument, looks like a pistol.

    Its availability, price, quality and brand name.

    Thanking you.

    mpradeepbhat

    3 months ago

    how long does the mask last ? Do we need to wash daily ? Please provide tips.

    rachanagokavi10

    3 months ago

    When will be the new masks available online?

    REPLY

    mpradeepbhat

    In Reply to rachanagokavi10 3 months ago

    it is available in flipkart

    anirban taran

    3 months ago

    I happened to come across this product by chance on Amazon. I bought them last week and I must say they are a lot more comfortable to wear and cover the face as mandated compared to available cloth masks. They are extremely lightweight, in price too. Great initiative.

    Your article states in the last para that they are working on new prototypes to make masks washable and reusable, but Amazon page suggests that the existing masks are washable and has provided washing instructions. I have personally washed the mask twice too as per instructions without any change in form.

    see https://www.amazon.in/Kawach-Start-up-Certified-Filtration-protective/dp/B08944XVZR

    REPLY

    anirban taran

    In Reply to anirban taran 3 months ago

    Grey-colored masks are smaller than other colors, It seems the grey ones are for children.

    Ramesh Popat

    3 months ago

    good one indeed!

    How to Treat Corona Virus-COVID at Home?
    Ever since the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak started, almost everyone has either become an expert (of mostly wrong knowledge or information) or digesting every piece of information as the best and right knowledge. Amidst all this fear-mongering and spreading wrong information on social media, there is one sane advice being given by a well-known and qualified doctor. Dr Faheem Younus is an MD and works as chief of infectious diseases at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. Through a series of tweets, Dr Younus (@FaheemYounus) not only gives sane advice but also provides proper guidance on fighting COVID. 
     
    Here he is providing some useful guidance and tips for treating COVID at home like what to take, what to avoid, when to worry, when not to, and protecting family. 
     
    Dr Younus says, this thread is for COVID positive (+ve) folks, who avoid hospital due to cost, trust, or capacity issues. He also clarifies that this is general advice and for personal treatment questions, the patients must contact their doctor.
     
    Let’s Start
     
    Use a separate room, bathroom and utensils for 14 days.
     
    If only one room, divide it with a thick curtain or screen and stay behind it.
     
    If only one bathroom, wear face mask before going and wipe all surfaces as best after using toilet. 
     
    Do not use steam or nebulizer or continuous positive airway pressure (cpap) in shared room. 
     
    Home Medications
     
    Most cases only need paracetamol or ibuprofen - whatever works for you. 
     
    NO NEED for antibiotics. 
     
    Record daily temperature, breathing rate, pulse and blood pressure (BP), if possible.
     
    Sleep well. Eat well. 
     
    Do whatever gives you peace of mind or reduce anxiety. 
     
    Recovery may take two-three weeks.
     
    What Not To Do 
     
    Actemra, plasma and remdesivir are all experimental drugs. Do not waste your time and money trying to get them.
     
    Herbs, sanna makki, and zinc are not even being studied. Avoid
     
    We do not use Zithromax, HCQ, ivermectin or vitamins for COVID patients. 
     
    LESS is MORE. Believe it.
     
    Monitoring
     
    Always wear a face mask around others. 
     
    Most smartphones have a 'pulse oximetry app'. Use it. If pulse ox stays below 90 or BP falls below 90 systolic go to hospital or contact your doctor. 
     
    Patients over 60-65, with high BP, obesity, and diabetes are at risk. Be safe.
     
    Duration of Illness
     
    Recovery may take two-three weeks. Remember: If you are not getting worse, you are getting better
     
    No need to get a repeat COVID test. 
     
    Repeating labs tests or computerised tomography (CAT) scans may not always change outcome
     
    Know that 80-90% patients may recover at home if managed right
     
    Worsening?
     
    If symptoms worsen, immediately call your doctor or go to the hospital
     
    Protect family members by staying away from them. Do not lose hope or give in. 
     
    Have faith. Have patience.
     
    Do not think it is a punishment from God
     
    Remember in most cases mortality is about 1%
     
    Declaring Victory
     
    End isolation after 14-days of symptom onset AND 3 days of no symptoms (without medicines)
     
    Donate plasma
     
    Rejoice! You have crossed the bridge and are likely immune. 
     
    We are unclear about the duration of immunity
     
    Remember the ordeal. Stay God-fearing, kind and loving.
     
     
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    COMMENTS

    archana_rahatade

    3 months ago

    Very helpful. thanks for sharing

    Ramesh Popat

    3 months ago

    good one indeed!

    Widespread face mask use can prevent Covid-19 second wave: Study
    Widespread use of face masks combined with physical distancing and some lockdown can lower Covid-19 transmission and may prevent a second wave of novel coronavirus infections, say researchers.
     
    A study suggests that lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 and that even homemade masks with limited effectiveness can dramatically reduce transmission rates if worn by enough people, regardless of whether they show symptoms.
     
    "Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public," said lead author Dr Richard Stutt from the University of Cambridge in the UK.
     
    "If widespread mask use by the public is combined with physical distancing and some lockdown, it may offer an acceptable way of managing the pandemic and reopening economic activity long before there is a working vaccine," Stutt added.
     
    For the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, the research team worked to link the dynamics of the spread between individuals with population-level models, to assess different scenarios of face mask adoption combined with periods of lockdown.
     
    The modelling included stages of infection and transmission via surfaces as well as air. 
     
    Researchers also considered negative aspects of mask use, such as increased face touching.
     
    The reproduction or 'R' number—the number of people an infected individual passes the virus onto—needs to stay below 1.0 for the pandemic to slow.
     
    The study found that if people wear masks whenever they are in public it is twice as effective at reducing 'R' than if masks are only worn after symptoms appear.
     
    In all modelling scenarios, routine mask use by 50 per cent or more of the population reduced Covid-19 spread to an R less than 1.0, flattening future disease waves and allowing less-stringent lockdowns.
     
    Viral spread reduced further as more people adopted masks when in public. 
     
    The findings showed that 100 per cent mask adoption combined with on/off lockdowns prevented any further disease resurgence for the 18 months required for a possible vaccine.
     
    The models suggest that - while the sooner the better - a policy of total face-mask adoption can still prevent a second wave even if it isn't instigated until 120 days after an epidemic begins (defined as the first 100 cases).
     
    Previous research shows that even homemade masks made from cotton t-shirts or dishcloths can prove 90 per cent effective at preventing transmission.
     
    The researchers point out that crude homemade masks primarily reduce disease spread by catching the wearer's own virus particles, breathed directly into fabric, whereas inhaled air is often sucked in around the exposed sides of the mask.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COMMENTS

    rajneesh

    3 months ago

    sham studies to scare and fleece humanity

    Ramesh Popat

    3 months ago

    so, N-95 mask price scandal will not hold!

    We are listening!

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