‘Kawach’ Masks - An Affordable Alternative to N95 Masks for ordinary people
Moneylife Digital Team 15 June 2020

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.  

1 year ago
Recent reports say that we should be using N95 masks. Can we continue to use this mask or should we switch to n95 mask. Please comment.
2 years 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.
2 years ago
how long does the mask last ? Do we need to wash daily ? Please provide tips.
2 years ago
When will be the new masks available online?
Replied to rachanagokavi10 comment 2 years ago
it is available in flipkart
anirban taran
2 years 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
anirban taran
Replied to anirban taran comment 2 years ago
Grey-colored masks are smaller than other colors, It seems the grey ones are for children.
Ramesh Popat
2 years ago
good one indeed!
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