The United States (US) Biomedical Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will hold a competition to design a new generation of masks to tackle Covid-19 with a total prize pool of US $ 500 thousand or the equivalent of Rp7.3 billion.
The mask-making competition was created in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which is an organization under the auspices of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aka CDC.
The competition is said to address some of the complaints that are often raised about masks, such as the fact that masks can make glasses dewy, irritate the skin, block communication and potentially spread SARS-CoV-2 particles through cavities.
The competition was held in several stages. The first stage of the mask innovation competition starts on April 21, 2021.
BARDA and the US CDC are asking contestants to submit designs that enhance existing mask designs or incorporate technology that has never been used in masks.
This contest has two phases. The first focuses on a design that is evaluated for filtering efficiency, the ability to reduce airflow through the mask and the ability of the mask to filter out harmful particles.
In the first stage, 10 winning candidates will be eliminated. Each will receive US $ 10,000 or around Rp146 million for capital in developing prototype masks for the candidates.
The second phase will ask participants to prove a hypothetical concept of mask design, but not based on an existing mask model.
At this stage participants will send a physical mask prototype to be tested by NIOSH. In this phase the winners will be reduced to five participants. In this phase, the five winners will receive a total prize of US $ 400 thousand or IDR 5.8 billion.
Holding a contest to design masks to improve could yield some real solutions. But beyond that it can increase the role of masks in human life even after some people have received vaccinations.
Quoted by Fast Company , currently there are many problems that hinder the use of masks. Overcoming complaints and being used as a reference in designing masks is one way.
But the existence of a competition to design masks does not guarantee the interest of the US public to use them. Because there are many reasons, masks cause dew when wearing them together with glasses.
Quoted by The Verge , the current availability of masks in the US has not been able to consistently meet demand. Moreover, the availability of recommended masks for medical N95 and KN95 is still difficult.
Joe Biden’s administration has laid out a plan to optimize the manufacture of masks for the Covid-19 pandemic supplies.