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MIT researchers create a reusable silicone mask to replace the N95

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

As new coronavirus cases spike in the U.S.—Florida alone now has 12 times more cases than the entire country of Australia—healthcare workers still face a shortage of N95 masks. Many hospitals are now reusing the masks, even though they’re intended to be thrown out after a single use. Various solutions for disinfecting masks or increasing the supply are in the works, but a new silicone mask now in development is designed to be used and sterilized repeatedly, and could be as effective as the gold standard of an N95 respirator.

“When the virus started popping up in the U.S., we talked about the need for PPE, and identified really early on that there was going to be a large deficit within the United States as well as the world,” says James Byrne, a radiation oncologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and research affiliate at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research who is part of a multidisciplinary team developing the new mask. “We really put our heads together to try to come up with something that was sustainable, and that’s how we really came up with this reusable, scalable, conformable, flexible mask.”

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