Tens of thousands of medical-grade face masks, costing "cents not euro" a piece, are expected to be available to the public within weeks from new Irish company measc.ie.
According to Irish entrepreneur Neil Sands, the machinery for this company to produce the masks is due to arrive in Ireland this weekend, with production to get going over the next two weeks. The masks would be available to buy online and in "strategic retail locations" shortly afterwards, he said.
“We aim to be able to offer reliable, medical-grade masks for the lowest possible cost,” he said.
Face masks were “front and centre” of the strategy for the return to work and social activity in cities internationally, Mr Sands said, and would be a “hugely important part” of the restart programme for Ireland.
Stories of “price gouging” in relation to personal protection products such as masks had been prevalent since the start of the pandemic, he said, but with a strong Irish supply chain, rather than relying on importation, costs could be kept down.
"We all know of masks that have been imported from China and are being sold for €20 for a pack of two or four masks. We will be selling the masks at as close as possible to cost; that means they will costs cents each not euro."
Mr Sands, a former Silicon Valley technology executive, describes the company as a “social enterprise” designed to “help Ireland restart as safely as possible”.
Production of the masks will begin in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, with facilities expected to open subsequently in a number of different locations. "I'd love to have the machine in my home town of Drogheda, " Mr Sands said.
The masks would be made in “clean room facilities, to the very highest standards of compliance”, he said, and while speed was of the essence, the quality of the masks would be paramount.
“First you crawl, then you walk, then you run. We don’t want to push the machinery too much but we hope to be producing tens of thousands of masks a week.”
The masks will initially be available through the company’s website measc.ie in packs of five, 10 or 20 masks, with retail outlets expected to be also used as production scales up, he said.
A pack of 20 should last a month for an individual who is wearing a mask every day going to work, Mr Sands said.