Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck (ÖVP) presented the first FFP2 protective masks from home-made on Saturday, which can be used by doctors, nursing staff and in hospitals in the fight against SARS-CoV-2.
The masks for the medical sector are produced by a Vorarlberg consortium led by the Grabher Group. Currently 15,000 pieces are produced every day.
100,000 masks a day
The production of protective masks, which filter 95 percent of viruses, is to be ramped up to 100,000 per day in the immediate future. It would be possible to produce half a million a day if enough seamstresses were found. At least 100 additional skilled workers would be needed for this, Schramböck explained in a press conference at the Federal Chancellery.
This is how protective masks are made in Ländle
Made in Vorarlberg
The economics minister spoke of an “important step towards self-sufficiency”, especially since there are numerous dubious providers on the international market, especially with FFP2 or FFP3 protective masks (the latter filter 98 percent of viruses, note). In nine out of ten cases, the protective masks offered to the republic would have proven to be unusable because they were not of the required quality, said Schramböck: “But we have to be able to rely on what is on it”. She doesn’t want to put anyone at risk “who is at the forefront”. It was all the more important to have an Austrian product “of the highest quality” that had also been tested and certified in Austria.
As Schramböck explained in this connection, a corresponding test center was set up at the Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying (BEV) within a week, so that the certification procedure for protective masks and similar items can now also be carried out in Austria. The nine certification bodies that had existed throughout Europe up to that point were “clearly too few”, especially from the point of view of smaller countries, Schramböck stated.
The economics minister could not or did not want to answer the states from which the dubious protective mask suppliers came from, with which the federal government was confronted with the procurement. She referred to “various countries in and outside the EU”. According to Schramböck, the protective masks currently used in this country mainly come from China, India and the USA. She estimated the need for FFP2 and FFP3 protective masks at twelve million in the next four weeks. In addition to the Vorarlberg consortium – whose goods are initially intended for the Red Cross and are to be distributed to hospitals after production has started – according to Schramböck, efforts are underway at several other companies to manufacture protective masks in series shortly.
In addition, there are already domestic companies working on the reusability of used masks. Schramböck specifically referred to a Styrian company that was just putting together a recycling model. According to Schramböck, ventilators made at home can also be hoped for. In general, the Minister spoke of a “wake-up call that we are producing more in Europe” when it comes to devices and materials that are urgently needed in the Corona crisis. One has to “change something in procurement”.
Domestic economy works
In this respect, she is “proud of Austrian companies that they can do it”. Semperit has brought gloves for medical examinations from Malaysia to Austria on a large scale, where 90 percent are manufactured for the world market. Lenzing in turn is working flat out on the production of protective suits. A local consortium provides “in good availability” disinfectants, Schramböck sketched. In addition, lessons have been learned from the recent past. As for surgical gloves, “the central warehouse was brought back from Germany to Austria,” said Schramböck. When the demand for these special gloves increased as a result of the corona pandemic, there had been difficulties in importing from the neighboring country.