Vernon company switches production to masks for health care workers - InfoNews

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Vernon company switches production to masks for health care workers

The VO2 Master Respirator mask.
Image Credit: VO2 Master
April 07, 2020 - 6:00 PM

Five days after launching a face mask akin to the much sought after N95 masks, the Vernon firm producing them has more orders than they can fill.

Vernon-based VO2 Master has gone from making complex face masks used by athletes, to produce a product designed for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

VO2 Master chief executive officer Peter O'Brien said the VO2 Master Respirator was launched April 2.

"We are producing and shipping and selling and scaling fast because holy smokes do we have some orders," O'Brien said.

The company, which launched in 2013, ordinarily produces portable metabolic analyzers. Largely used by athletes, coaches and researchers, the face mask measures a person breathing, then uses multiple circuit boards to turn it into useful information for athletes and researchers.

One key ingredient the masks also contain is the woven nylon which N95 masks are made from. The company had plenty of this material in stock, and with a global shortage of it, O'Brien said it would have been wrong not to do something with it.

Compared to the company's regular products which involved years and years of research, O'Brien said the new mask for front-line health care workers was quite straightforward to produce.

The firm has produced a reusable mask that uses filters. Each filter set lasts eight hours, and costs as litter as $3 to replace. The masks cost $449 and include 25 filter sets - enough for 200 hours use. The masks also use one-sixth of the nylon material needed to make a disposable N95 mask.

"What we are trying to do is outfit every front-line worker with one of these because they only need one blue mask and over time we get them more filters," he said.

O'Brien won't discuss the exact number of orders but said current orders are outstripping production.

"We can produce about 20 units a day right out," he said. 

In two weeks he's hoping to be able to produce 325 a day.

The current set up employs 15 people, and he knows the firm will have to hire to keep up with production and demand.

The facility does not meet the stringent criteria a production line producing medical-grade equipment has to and is not certified, but O'Brien said the masks filtering ability is superior to that of N95 masks.

For more information about the masks go here.

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