An agreement was signed on 22 December 2020 between the State, the Geneva-based company Jean Gallay, M3 Group, the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and the start-up HMCARE for local manufacturing.
The mask protects us from viruses but creates a social distance, a communicational distance. The good news is that the first 100% transparent surgical masks should arrive on the market by the summer of 2021 and will be produced, not in Asia as initially planned, but in the canton of Geneva, announces the Department of Economic Development (DDE).
The State, the Geneva-based company Jean Gallay, M3 Groupe, the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and the start-up HMCARE signed a "Memorandum of Understanding", a non-binding but formal promise of agreement that will facilitate local and large-scale production.
A little more expensive
"Our ambition is to offer masks (editor's note: transparent and single-use) as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible price, in the hope that this new product will become a new world standard in the field of health care," say Thierry Pelet and Sacha Sidjanski, respectively CEO and co-founder of the start-up company HMCARE, the researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) who are behind the innovation. The challenge was to reconcile transparency, resistance and porosity.
How many will be sold? Thierry Pelet explained in July "that because of the complex technology required to manufacture the material, the mask, disposable, will probably be 15% to 20% more expensive than a basic surgical mask".
Transparent surgical masks are particularly in demand in medical circles to improve communication and deciphering facial expressions. This is especially essential in pediatric and geriatric care, but also to facilitate lip reading for the deaf and hard of hearing. However, the agreement signed on Tuesday aims to offer the entire population access to these new masks.
An idea born before the pandemic
The transparent mask project did not wait for the Covid to be born. The idea was launched five years ago by Diane Baatard, a storyteller active in the field of pediatric oncology, to humanize exchanges with sick children. Since then, the demand has continued to grow.