Blockchain firm Real Items protects KN95 face masks

US company Real Items has been contracted to secure the supply chain of a Chinese respiratory mask manufacturer using blockchain.

Tricol Group will use Real Items’ VeChainThor blockchain to allow the verification of its KN95 standard masks, in short supply and seeing significant counterfeiting as a result of rocketing demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the Illinois department of public health said fake KN95 masks are “flooding the marketplace”, recommending that the use of these masks be discontinued “unless their authenticity and performance (through fit testing) can be verified.”

The blockchain specialist has implemented a system that can verify up to 200,000 of the masks each day via the VeChainThor marketplace. It says all orders made though its site and partners will have a VeChain non-fungible token (NFT) that can be used to confirm their authenticity.

Earlier this month the FDA approved the import of Chinese-made KN95 masks as an alternative to the N95 standard masks such as those manufactured by 3M, which are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) but are in short supply.

3M has just filed legal actions in New York, Texas, and California as part of a crackdown on price gouging and counterfeiting, targeting people who "attempted to fraudulently sell tens of millions of likely nonexistent 3M N95 respirators at grossly inflated prices."

The Tricol masks have a QR code on the packaging that can be scanned with the WeChat App or smartphone camera, and verifies the authenticity of the mask along with other information such as place and time of manufacture and key supply chain transit points.

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