Customs officials have seized over 20 million counterfeit masks since the beginning of the year

Millions of counterfeit masks have been seized by Customers and Border Protection (CBP) officials since the start of the pandemic. But the last few months have seen anexponential increasein counterfeit mask seizures, a CBP official told CNN.

Since the start of the pandemic, CBP has seized more than 34 million counterfeit masks, most of them modeled to resemble N95 or KN95 masks. In giro 20 million of those masks were caught in 2021, said John Leonard, acting executive assistant commissioner of the agency’s Office of Trade.
The mask is really the most visible symbol of this pandemic,” Leonard told CNN. “[Counterfeiters] look into taking advantage of this situation.
      The counterfeit masks resemble N95 respirators, considered the most effective mask in preventing coronavirus transmission, but don’t offer the same level of protection, Disse Leonard. They might be missing some of the components that make N95 masks so effective, such as headbands to maintain a sealed fit.
        CNN reported in February that the agency had seized 14 million counterfeit masks from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of 2020. That month, the amount of masks officials were seizingblew up again,” Disse Leonard.
          Officials made two notable seizures recently: A febbraio, più di 108,000 fake N95 masksmarketed using 3M’s brandingwere seized in Cincinnati. The next month, CBP found 65,000 fake respirators at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, also bearing 3M’s logo.
          Counterfeit masks make up most of the seizures, but CBP officers have also seized around 180,000 unauthorized Covid-19 tests. Quasi 39,000 chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets were seized, a measure the agency takes when drugs are imported into the US without FDA approval. CBP provided no details on these tablets.
          If consumers don’t know the products are ineffective, they could give users afalse sense of security,” which could further coronavirus transmission, CBP said in a report.
          Leonard attributes the uptick in counterfeit seizures to the ongoing demand for masks as the pandemic endures. È possibile, as more of the US population is vaccinated, that the amount of counterfeit masks attempting to enter the US will fall, Disse Leonard, based on consumer demand.
          Masks will still be a part of American life, even as millions more people are vaccinated.
          Il Centri per il controllo e la prevenzione delle malattie encourages people who’ve been vaccinated to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing when they’re in public. The agency is waiting to learn more about whether fully vaccinated people can still transmit coronavirus to others who aren’t vaccinated.

          How to separate real masks from the imitators

          There are ways to delineate the real thing from imitators.
          Fake masks may have the following, secondo il CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
            • No NIOSH approval. NIOSH only certifies facepiece respirators like N95 masks if they filter at least 95% of particles. Without NIOSH approval, you can’t be sure your mask is equally protective.
            • Ear loops. A true N95 mask has headbands instead of ear loops, which help the mask form a seal against your face.
            • Sequins or other appliques. Per NIOSH, altering an N95 mask in any way could make it less effective, and NIOSH doesn’t approve a mask that’s been changed or decorated.
            • Other tells: Look for typos in product descriptions or on packaging. Unbelievably low prices may be too good to be true. And if the seller says the mask is approved for children, non è — NIOSH doesn’t approve N95 masks for kids.
            Il full list of NIOSH-approved N95 masks is available through the CDC.

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