Designer face masks have become a valued accessory for affluent consumers around the world during the coronavirus outbreak. They have been in existence for at least 10 years as a niche market serving Beijing consumers, Burning Man attendees and the chronically ill. And now they have also become a sign of inequality for some in an age when there is a short supply of protective gear for medical staffers, Bloomberg reported.
The worldwide mask shortage is an acute challenge for medical staff. Facebook and Apple are among the firms assisting in getting and contributing masks to hospitals. The designer masks, for their part, typically come at a cost of $12 for a simple black Cambridge mask or as high as $69 for a pink Airinum. But, in the last week, Airinums have sold for over $200 each on eBay.
Amazon, eBay and other retailers have fallen under pressure for providing the means for sellers to price gouge on needed supplies like hand sanitizer and masks. In reply, the companies said they would prohibit those kinds of listings. However, the luxury masks reportedly fall in a gray area of sorts because they are high-end items.
They are still masks, in the views of government officials. Vogmask, which is based in California, makes all of its items in South Korea, which put into place an export ban in March on medical masks. The firm’s co-founder, Wendover Brown, said per the report that 80,000 completed and packaged items are sitting in a warehouse close to Incheon and are not able to go through customs.
In separate news, workers at an IKEA store in Sweden came across 50,000 unused face masks to contribute to a local hospital. The masks were bought over the bird flu epidemic and not used. Sweden had 1,167 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday (March 17). The healthcare system of the nation, like every other system around the globe, is at risk of becoming overwhelmed by a surge in cases.