The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted a lot of countries, specifically in areas like the Americas, Brazil, India and Africa. Africa has especially experienced a surge of positive cases and is struggling in terms of COVID-19 prevention. According to the Milken Institute, while places like North America and Europe are 43.64% and 49.57% fully vaccinated respectively as of September 9, 2021, only 3.28% of Africa’s population are fully vaccinated from the novel coronavirus. Out of more than eight million cases reported in Africa, about 2.84 million cases come from South Africa alone.
Moreover, due to the deadly virus, GDP growth throughout Africa is expected to slow. But, even with these grim consequences, help is on the way from a brilliant company based in South Africa, Copper Fresh. During the pandemic, healthcare experts encourage people to do three things: wash their hands, socially distance when possible and wear a face mask to prevent the spread of the virus. However, Copper Fresh is not developing just ordinary face masks but rather copper face masks.
Copper Fresh, a company found in Johannesburg, South Africa, is developing pink copper face masks that will help slow the spread of disease and safeguard people’s health. But, with these specific face masks, it is not just about a color change from blue to pink, it is about the mask material. These masks are made out of copper — the reason why the masks have a light red or darker pink color to them — and because of this, the mask can sanitize itself and kill COVID-19 on its surface.
Benefits of Copper
According to IT News Africa, copper is known to kill a variety of diseases “like MRSA, E.coli, Influenza A as well as norovirus. Moreover, according to the University of Cambridge, “copper and alloys that contain up to 58% copper are effective in killing microbes on furniture and equipment in hospital wards.” While the mask is not fully made out of copper, it has the capability to fend off multiple diseases including COVID-19. Dean Lazarus, a co-founder of the company, explains how these copper face masks beat a normal blue medical mask. “[Copper Fresh] mask kills viruses and bacteria. Whereas your traditional blue mask doesn’t. So, if you take your mask off and then put it back on again, you are still carrying the virus with you,” states Lazarus.
According to Business Insider, Copper Fresh partners with Israel-based MedCu Technologies, a company that makes “fabric infused with copper oxide for paramedics to dress wounds at accident scenes.” This fabric is made by mixing together cloth and copper oxide, which is done by placing copper oxide into the fabric at a “microscopic level on a conveyer belt system.” This new fabric then ships to Johannesburg, where Copper Fresh produces the masks.
Hope Amid COVID-19
Due to the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19, the chances of households moving into poverty are greatly increasing. The risk of falling into transient poverty is increasing by 17% while long-term poverty is increasing by 4%. The chance of escaping poverty has decreased by more than 5%, according to the Milken Institute.
Now, thanks to Copper Fresh and its innovative new face masks, Africa is one step closer to lessening the number of new COVID-19 cases and helping people rise out of poverty. Not many people would think a mask that has an “N95 filter between two sheets of the copper material” would be so beneficial, but Copper Fresh is ambitiously proving this possible. With almost 50,000 masks made per day selling at R25 each, or just less than $2, plenty of Africans can benefit from this revolutionary technology. Copper Fresh masks symbolize more than just protection — they inspire hope.
– Matt Orth