It can have surprised no one that convicted kleptocrat Najib Razak has attended court and other events wearing possibly the most expensive and exclusive form of mask available to match his couture suits.
Advertisements show that the masks in question boast an almost total protection for the wearer, against “present and even future pandemics“.
The extra crucial feature of this style of mask is the ‘one-way valve’ that carefully filters the air breathed in. Instructions make clear that despite the hefty price tag they should be disposed after a single use.
After all, Najib was not convicted for stealing a mere few hundred ringgit (if he had he would have gone straight to jail). He is used to the best things in life, including the best health protection.
However, the maker of this exclusive ‘Swiss’ Xeralife brand, which is in fact manufactured locally in Malaysia and sells for around RM60 a pack of three, has now confirmed to Sarawak Report that the purpose of the product is squarely focused on the protection of the wearer rather than those around him.
Indeed there has been considerable concern in recent weeks over the flaunting of these one way valve masks by well-heeled wearers across the globe, compared to the more humble paper products available to the majority of people at the chemist.
In short, according to medical experts “These masks are designed for situations in which the wearers need to protect themselves but aren’t at risk of transmitting infection to others” for example when a doctor is treating a lone infectious patient or factory workers need to avoid dust.
But, as legions of doctors have now explained, in a situation like the present pandemic, where we all wear masks to protect each other, the one-way valve acts as the ultimate selfish accessory that protects the wearer, but nobody else.
This was how experts explained the product to Healthline as more and more global authorities have started to call for people to stop wearing them over the past few weeks:
“Any mask with a one-way valve is only going to protect the person wearing it. It won’t protect anyone around that person from potential exposure to virus particles they exhale,” Dr. Ali Raja, executive vice chair of the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School told Healthline. “It may give the people surrounding them a false sense of security.”
“In the spirit of ‘your mask protects me and my mask protects you,’ a mask with a valve virtually makes that impossible,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS, a microbiologist and contributor at the COVID Tracking Project.
“If you don’t have anything filtering what’s going out, it’s kind of like your mouth is an open air exhaust. And that’s the danger,” she told Healthline.
So as far as Najib is concerned his top dollar mask has been protecting him from all the crowds of supposedly adoring supporters who have circled him at court or indeed now on the campaign trail, but done nothing to protect them in return.
If he turns out to have picked up the virus during all these public events, no one around him will have the expected basic protection when he breaths out, speaks… or worse coughs in their direction.
To the contrary, the valve acts to funnel and turbo-charge the virus right at them!
It is not as if such products (generally described as an N95 mask variety) have not been widely reported on and officially warned against. In the US the leading agency in the field has strongly condemned their use:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others.” [health news hub]
Likewise in India:
Rajiv Garg, Director General of Health Services in India wrote to all health authorities saying “the use of valved respirator N95 mask is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus” [Times of India]
Airlines have also started banning their use on flights:
“Any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers travelling on any Delta operated flight,” the airline announced last week, with United Airlines and JetBlue sharing similar announcements. On Wednesday, Alaska Airlines also updated its mask policy, listing “face coverings with direct exhaust valves” under its “unacceptable face coverings” section.
Even the top US Mayo Clinic, cited by PM8 as the medical institute supervising his own cancer treatment, has come out to condemn the use of valve masks:
“It defeats the purpose,” Kai Singbartl, a medical doctor who is the chair for infection prevention and control at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, told USA Today. “They are unfiltered, those valves are the path of least resistance so to speak, it’s easier to exhale and get rid of the heat and moisture.”
Did Najib miss the news and does he care? Who knows. This is a man who has lately explained that he stole billions from his country, but only to ‘help the orphans’.
Meanwhile, Malaysian advertisers have jumped on the bandwagon to promote this product that has been increasingly banned worldwide.
Najib has become their pinup star to encourage others to buy the expensive, throw away but selfish product.
Numerous KL outlets now declare they have sold out online.
When we investigated this week we discovered the global medical concerns failed to deter Xeralife from offering to SELL Sarawak Report a wholesale batch of the masks after we wrote to query the details of their product.
Marketing their prices the Xeralife sales team clearly confirmed the one-way valve feature of the mask, which has been so widely condemned by experts for use in the pandemic:
“The design in and integration of the air valve is there for better breathability and it is positioned at the side way instead at the middle.It function[s] as a one way valve where it filter[s] incoming polluted and decontaminated air and exhaust[s] air that we exhale.
The cost is RM35.90/box and it’s available….” [email from Xeralife to SR]
Meanwhile, yet another warning from Martin Fischer of Duke University who conducted a study into valved masks:
“they do a great job of protecting the wearer from the outside environment, but a bad job of protecting others from the wearer, and it is the second role that is the important one to reduce COVID-19 spread.”
A follow up email from Xeralife to Sarawak Report on Wednesday acknowledged these very concerns after we rejected their one way valve masks on the ground of endangering others,
The company then informed us they will be releasing a version of their mask without an air valve next week.
Meanwhile, those who have crowded up to see and support Najib, might do better to keep at a safe distance and for their own benefit not his.
READ THE EMAIL TRAIL
I am interested in purchasing a consignment of your decontamination air masks but I have a question about them. Photographs I have found of them online, for example here https://shopee.com.my/-NEW-XERALIFE-DECONTAMINATOR-AIR-MASK-SWISS-DESIGN-i.162663628.7817796893 , show they have a filter. Is the exhaled air filtered by this — and if so, how — or is it only a one-way filter that filters incoming air?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for contacting Xeralife!
The design in and integration of the air valve is there for better breathability and it is positioned at the side way instead at the middle.
It function as a one way valve where it filter incoming polluted and decontaminated air and exhaust air that we exhale.
The cost is RM35.90/box and it’s available moving to next weekend. In this case it’s our Japan version stocks. Thanks
Xeralife International Sdn Bhd
Dear [Sales Team],
Thank you for the speedy reply. We shall consider the matter but we are concerned about the safety for those around the wearer of masks with valves in the light of articles such as this: https://healthnewshub.org/health-news-hub/top-news/do-not-use-a-mask-with-a-filtered-valve-it-can-spread-covid-19/ so we will probably look for other designs.
Thanks for your reply and no issue. On the contrary, we do have a model of 4 ply pleated ear loop mask with no air valve which is available from next Monday.
The cost for this Anti Microbial Germ Decontaminator Mask is at RM250.00/ box of 50 pieces.
Do let me know if you are keen and I will allocate accordingly. Thanks and have a safe and pleasant evening ahead !
Xeralife International Sdn Bhd