Sam Altman, The former Y Combinator president and CEO of OpenAI, tweeted his goal of securing a billion masks in 180 days. People just need to crowdfund those masks, first.
Altman, along with his brother Max Altman, a Rippling employee; Radu Spineanu, co-founder of Two Tap; Tinnei Pang, designer at Mercari US; and others are all working with suppliers in China to obtain a billion single-use masks to help the broadest population in the US. From service workers to those in hospitals, but not working directly with COVID-19 patients.
Technology leaders will not finance these masks themselves, but will instead ask the institutions to finance the orders. Originally, the site 1billionmasks.com used the phrase "crowdfunding" to request cash, but since then that wording has changed so that the general public doesn't think they need to order masks.
“We are only taking orders for 10,000,000 or more. So 10M is the minimum order, "according to Max Altman." The idea is that institutions, states, cities, organizations, universities, etc., group large orders to reduce the price per mask and increase the number of masks. available. "
"This is a somewhat unusual market: the most effective way to guarantee supply is to pay in advance so that factories can buy the equipment and supplies they need, and buying in bulk leads to significant cost savings," the site says.
According to the initiative's website, none of the organizers will make money from the production of masks.
Users can visit the 1billionmasks.com website and submit an "indication of interest" form. If there is enough demand, according to the team, an order form will appear on the site, and approved buyers will sign a contract and send a payment to then "crowdfund" the skins.
If demand reaches a certain point, the team will be able to sell masks at 32 cents per mask, not including taxes and fees. If there is less demand, that price will be higher.
The masks are not intended to replace the dramatic shortage of N95 masks that we are seeing across the country, but rather to prevent non-front-line people from purchasing the rare N95 masks.
N95 masks are necessary because they filter out small particles, which is key for frontline healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19. This does not mean that others do not need to wear masks, and in fact, the WHO and CDC recommend the use of masks in general. Due to the recommendation, many DIY mask tutorials have been created, urging people to use materials ranging from scarves to socks.
There has been a great deal of effort from the private technology sector to help with medical shortages across the country. Apple, for example, obtained more than 20 million masks and is now building "face shields." Smaller companies are also making progress: A heating filter company, a robotics startup, and an architecture startup have independently switched operations to start making masks and fans.
The option Altman and his team provide has been classified for bacterial infiltration in people who are not on the front line. The mask option is closer to a surgical mask than an N95 mask. Surgical masks do not provide as much respiratory protection as an N95 respirator, but they do protect against drops and large respiratory particles. According to the CDC, "Most surgical masks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales."
According to the website, the masks could be distributed by state and local governments, institutions, organizations and companies to essential workers, such as grocery buyers or delivery people.
Deliveries would begin arriving in Long Beach three to four weeks after the first order, and would then continue weekly for six months. Long Beach is the delivery point because it is the place where the team can obtain supplies as quickly as possible, according to Max Altman.
Update: The team returned to Newsdio in more details after the post. This story has been updated with more information.