The Trump administration has barred 66 Chinese companies from selling medical face masks to the United States because of what experts say is poor quality.
N95 masks are highly desired by doctors, nurses and hospitals because they are far more effective than the regular surgical masks or cloth ones. They must block out 95% of microns, including the coronavirus, in laboratory tests.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that the Chinese-manufactured masks called KN95 filtered out as little as 24% of the particles, with one shipment of masks blocking just 1%.
The FDA said the ban slashes the number of Chinese companies authorized to provide masks to American medical workers from 80 to 14.
U.S. regulators started buying N95 masks from China last month because of a shortage in the U.S.
Warning letters sent
Also Thursday, the FDA said it had sent 42 warning letters to companies allegedly selling phony and even dangerous COVID-19 treatments. The FDA said Operation Quack Hack had uncovered hundreds of fake coronavirus drugs, testing kits and protection equipment.
It said a federal court stepped in to stop one seller who ignored FDA warnings against selling a product called Miracle Mineral Solution, which the FDA said was nothing more than a solution similar to industrial-strength bleach.
“Americans can rest assured that we’re leveraging our experience investigating, examining and reviewing medical products, both at the border and within domestic commerce,” FDA Associate Commissioner Judy McMeekin said. “We take seriously our responsibility to determine whether the medical products coming into our country are fraudulent, counterfeit or illegitimate, and take action as needed.”