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Burnaby mask company says B.C. isn't following science, offers to donate 200K N95 respirators to immunizers

Vitacore Industries Inc. extremely busy filling purchases of respirators as Omicron spreads
Burnaby’s Vitacore Industries Inc. president Mikhail Moore.

Burnaby mask company Vitacore is willing to make a large donation of respirators to health-care workers if B.C. starts allowing the wearing of N95 and 99 masks. 

The debate over N95 and above respirators and surgical masks continue to gain traction, even deterring volunteers to give out booster immunizations. 

Vancouver infectious diseases physician and medical microbiologist Dr. Victor Leung took to Twitter on Dec. 31, saying he had responded to the province's call for volunteers to help provide COVID-19 booster shots. 

But he was told he can't wear his own N95 or CAN-99 masks.

"I wrote the provincial intake email and volunteered to administer vaccines in Jan/Feb/March," his tweet said. 

"Unfortunately, I can't participate because I can't wear my own N95 or CAN-99. Too bad." 

Sean Gallimore wrote yesterday (Jan. 4) on Twitter that he had been told if he arrived for his shift at a vaccination clinic for today in Vancouver, he would be turned away. 

"Just been told if I show up for my shift at the vaccination clinic tomorrow in Vancouver in an N95/99, I will be turned away at the door, as will any immunizer or other staff."

Workers in health care settings are usually given surgical face masks. 

Gallimore said in a follow-up tweet that clients would be asked to remove their N95, but they would not be required to remove it to enter and get their vaccination. 

Vitacore president Mikhail Moore tweeted on New Year's Eve that the company would donate 200,000 N95/N99 respirators to Health Care Workers administering vaccines if the province "immediately changes its policy to allow the protection our HCWs are asking for." 

"We need to do everything we can to support our HCWs and the integrity of our healthcare system," Moore wrote. 

"This means making evidence-based decisions like the use of N95s. 

"Even if the science wasn't clear (and it is), why take the risk?" 

Burnaby’s Vitacore Industries Inc. was the first Canadian company to receive Health Canada authorization to produce N95-equivalent respirators on home soil.

Vitacore said it partnered with McMaster University to develop this Canadian N95-equivalent respirator with testing completed by the National Research Council of Canada.

Its single-use fold CAN95 respirators have tested at a higher average particle filtration efficiency than the N95 standard, said the company. Vitacore is also the first company in Canada with an integrated facility producing raw materials and finished products.

Helmed by local business leaders, the privately-held company has quickly grown to a team of 90 employees, including engineers and medical professionals at its state-of-the-art facility in Burnaby.

With files from Chris Campbell, Burnaby NOW