Germany has attracted attention this week after it announced the kind of specialized, highly degradable suit that many organizations in Washington, Japan and other countries are mulling but are still legally barred from making.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters that the suit’s manufacture and sale is out of his government’s authority because it goes against Germany’s anti-racism laws. German experts said that the suit, for which it cost about $100,000 to produce, could produce more than 150,000 pairs a year and it is intended for use in health care facilities and its invention has been heralded as a breakthrough in the fast-moving global race to develop a medical alternative to the “rubber masks” that have been around since 9/11.
“We are very much interested in this innovation and we are trying to take the best advantage of it,” Sir Francis Jullien, head of the World Health Organization’s emergency preparedness and response unit, told the Guardian.
Masks were used to treat millions after the 2003 anthrax scare and also after the West Africa Ebola outbreak. In the case of Ebola, the World Health Organization said that using paper to seal up the mask proved problematic, as it was leaking fluid.
The suit, which Germans say was designed by a company owned by a professor specializing in hypothermia, is made out of polymers that can break down in the ground or the ocean, preventing further spread of the flu or other infectious diseases.