The Big Business of COVID-19 and Protective Masks

By David Richardson
David Richardson
David Richardson
Richardson is the former Assistant Secretary for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) at the Department of Homeland Security, appointed by President Donald Trump. Prior to leading CWMD, Richardson worked in industry leadership at CWMD, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, and Transportation Security Administration overseeing acquisitions, strategic planning, and requirements development processes.
January 18, 2022Updated: January 18, 2022


Indeed, most issues are symbolic, and people want to be on the right side of symbols. If you are wearing a type N-95 protective mask right now, there’s a good chance it’s counterfeit and ineffective against COVID-19 and its derivatives.

In other words, the mask you have is likely just a symbol. Furthermore, if you’re wearing anything other than an authentic type N-95, it’s likely doing virtually nothing to guard you against COVID and other pathogens.

But masks are big business nowadays. A quick internet search indicates the counterfeit mask business is somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion annually. Fortune Business Insights projects the mask business to be worth $3.5 billion by 2027.

Put another way, wearing masks other than authentic type N-95 is simply virtue signaling, ignorance, or begrudged adherence to rules and regulations imposed by local, state, and federal bureaucrats posing as authorities on COVID transmission. These posers provide little proof the incoherent and draconian mask mandates that target public spaces and recommended for private gatherings are effective.

So, one asks, who is benefiting from this if the general public isn’t? The answer is simple—the mask industry.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) determines the best masks that mitigate COVID transmission. Indeed, there are only a few approved N and P types that fall under the general vernacular of N-95. The CDC attempts to track counterfeit N-95 masks. Listed on the CDC website are ways to identify counterfeits, including the lack of CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) markings, NIOSH spelled incorrectly, the presence of decorative fabric, etc.

The CDC site notes NIOSH does not approve any type of face protection for children. Nowhere does it say that masks other than an authentic N-95 mask—the kind you pick up at the corner store check-out line and the kind nearly everyone wears for compliance—does little to prevent transmission of any pathogen. Such masks make you feel good or keeps you in compliance. That’s about it.

Counterfeiters—primarily in China but elsewhere as well—have successfully passed off low-quality N-95 masks that don’t protect against the coronavirus. Likely even more than counterfeit N-95 is the manufacturing and sale of the general-purpose masks. These masks are little more than symbols, making people feel good and forcing them to be non-compliant to identify themselves by the lack of face covering. From mom-and-pop stands near the highway in Leesburg, Virginia to a stocking making factory in China repurposed for counterfeit N-95 masks, the boom in the demand for masks is a boon for businesses that provide little more than symbols—a type of wearable logo.

Who created the demand for low-grade products? State, local, and federal government bureaucrats, most of whom are entirely ignorant of science, let alone the details of COVID-19. Typically, bureaucrats cite other bureaucrats such as Anthony Fauci as sources of their knowledge, effectively admitting they are drinking their own bureaucratic bathwater. If you are well acquainted with the types of people who fill the ranks of the bureaucracy at the federal, state, and local governments, then this makes sense. Indeed, you understand the bureaucracies are incestuous and serve themselves first and the constituents only second; self-preservation is paramount—the mission to serve the public is secondary, if relevant at all. There’s no better case study for this than the farce of masks.

So who benefited financially from the rules and regulations imposed by the bureaucrats? Surely, not the American people who have suffered horribly from the ineptness, financial calamity, and lack of transparency inflicted onto them by bureaucrats. Ironically, it’s China, the source of the virus, the primary source of counterfeit N-95 masks, and the manufacturers of the general-purpose mask—now a nearly ubiquitous symbol of fear, ignorance, and government ineptitude.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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