Just recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the $500,000 “Mask Innovation Challenge” to find new and effective face masks for people to use.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 165 million vaccines have already been administered in the US, but with the coronavirus still present, masks remain a serious priority.
Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, the acting assistant secretary at HHS, said in a press release that ‘properly and consistently worn face masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, but many people are reluctant to wear them for a variety of reasons’.
“With this mask challenge, we want to get people across the country involved in developing new masks that are both effective and comfortable,” Bratcher-Brownman said. “This will help us control COVID-19 and be better prepared for future public health emergencies.”
Participants in the contest must be US citizens or legal residents, and the deadline for submission is on April 21.
In the first phase of the challenge, the masks will be judged by fit, comfort, filtration efficiency, inhalation airflow, and others depending on the design. Ten winners will be chosen and will split a $100,000 prize.
In the second phase, the participants can submit prototypes, it will be tested to see if they meet airflow resistance and filtration criteria. Five winners will be chosen and will split a $400,000 prize.
The HHS is hosting the contest in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.