The ability of Canada to deal with the coronavirus epidemic is being questioned after millions of expired masks stored in Ontario were found.
The masks had been stored since the SARS epidemic and were meant for healthcare workers in case of a future outbreak, reported Reuters.
The stockpile of 55 million N95 masks was created 13 years ago in response to the deadly SARS epidemic that hit the province in 2002 and 2003. A lack of funding to “manage” the stockpile meant the masks were not distributed to hospitals before they expired.
Why It Matters
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s officials have said that masks may be “less effective” beyond the expiration date, according to Reuters.
A report by Ontario’s auditor general indicates that 80% of the stocked masks had expired as of December 2017.
What Else Is There
Meanwhile, demand for masks is surging globally, and the U.S. Congress is set to pass legislation authorizing $8 billion to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.
Manufacturers of masks want protection from liability lawsuits as two different types of N95 masks exist for construction and medical uses.
Vice President Pence, who is in charge of tackling the epidemic in the U.S., said that there are currently 40 million masks in the country with the government planning to increase supply by 35 million each month, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Pence and the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen M. Hanh paid a visit to 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM), a major maker of N95 masks on Thursday and assured that the administration would work with Congress on “extending legal protections” to manufacturers of masks.