Biden administration launches $ 500,000 competition to improve face mask design

Biden administration launches $ 500,000 competition to improve face mask design


That’s why the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the $ 500,000 “Mask Innovation Challenge” to find new and effective masks that people will find more comfortable to wear.

Contest entrants have until April 21 to submit innovative ideas that would help eliminate common problems with wearing masks while making sure they protect themselves effectively against the coronavirus.

More than 165 million vaccines have been administered in the United States so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But masks remain a serious priority.

“We know that properly and regularly worn face masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, but many people are reluctant to wear them for various reasons,” said Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, secretary Acting HHS preparedness and response assistant, said in a press release. “With this mask challenge, we want to involve people across the country in the development of new masks that are both effective and comfortable. This will help us control COVID-19 and be better prepared for future public health emergencies.

HHS is running the competition in conjunction with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the agency responsible for directing vaccine production and procurement.

Competition conditions and prizes

Many people try to avoid masks because they can be uncomfortable to breathe. They can fog the glasses, making it difficult to talk to others. And they don’t always adapt perfectly to people’s faces.

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If you have a unique idea that meets the required safety guidelines, you can submit your idea here before 5 p.m. ET on April 21.

You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident to receive an award.

Up to 10 winners will be chosen in the first phase of the challenge and will share a prize of $ 100,000, with each person winning up to $ 10,000.

Masks will be judged on their filtration efficiency, resistance to inhalation airflow, fit, and other testing methods depending on the design.

No mask model is allowed to use sprays or drugs that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, nose or mouth, according to HHS. You cannot accessorize or modify NIOSH approved respirators or FDA approved surgical masks with anything like filters or additional head straps or earrings.

During the second phase of the competition, entrants can submit prototypes “that take advantage of research on the filtration efficiency of materials and meet criteria such as filtration, fit, comfort and ease with which the design can be manufactured on a large scale, “the HHS statement said. .

Prototypes will be tested to see if they meet filtration and airflow resistance criteria. And five winners will be chosen to share a prize of $ 400,000.

More details will be provided in the future on the second phase of the competition.

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