ZURICH: Spiez Lab, a government-run institute in the Swiss mountains, was set up to protect the nation from nuclear, biological and chemical threats. “For a world without weapons of mass destruction,” runs its slogan. It is now fighting another global menace – the coronavirus – by providing face masks, the demand for which is growing faster than the disease they’re meant to fend off. Hospitals treating COVID-19, the pandemic caused by the virus, can need up to nine times the protective equipment they do when dealing with normal flu, according to the American Hospital Association. READ: Millions of masks stockpiled in Canada’s Ontario expired before coronavirus hit The Swiss lab acquires masks that are past their expiry dates, then tests them to see if they still work. “If yes, they’re being distributed to the health care system via military pharmacies,” said spokesman Andreas Bucher. So far, he said, Spiez Lab has distributed 10.2 million masks. That’s a lot for an institute better known for its expertise on deadly nerve agents. But globally, it’s a drop in an ocean of need. In Switzerland, whose population of 8.2 million is about the size of New York City, it would amount to less than… Read full this story
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