The country has inaugurated its first production line for N95 masks, with the expectation that it will produce as many as two million per month.
N95 masks are medical grade masks with a filtering capacity of 95% and are essential for medical teams that come into direct contact with coronavirus patients and carriers. The World Health Organization recommends that all medical personnel wear such masks.
This is the first production line of its kind in Israel and among a few around the world. It was established by the Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP), in the Defense Ministry and Sion Medical in the southern city of Sderot.
“I commend the important activities of the procurement directorate and of the entire Defense Ministry, which encourages ‘blue and white’ [local] production,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “The State of Israel is fighting a virus that threatens and takes human lives. "We are preparing for a second wave of the virus, and are also in the process of entering a period of routine with a backdrop of corona," he said. "This activity removes our dependence on foreign factors, contributes to the Israeli economy during a difficult period, and also provides employment opportunities for the residents of the South.”
During the first wave of the novel coronavirus, Israel struggled to get supplies, sometimes requiring the Defense Ministry and the Mossad to run clandestine missions to bring masks and other protective devices to Israel.
"It must be understood that there is an 'arms race' around the world on the [test] kit issue," said Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto during a Knesset Coronavirus Committee meeting on April 1. "We've placed many orders, but most of them have fallen through because of the embargo and other problems… There is nothing else we can do but trust ourselves.”
Deputy director-general and head of the DOPP Avi Dadon expressed similar sentiments. He said that “In the executive team, we always rely on Israeli production – and see great importance, during such difficult times, in boosting Israeli industries, with an emphasis on the periphery."