Chinese manufacturers of medical masks are cashing in on the coronavirus pandemic that started in their country.
Nearly a fifth of mask manufacturers in the country only jumped into the business after January, the Financial Times reported, citing official data.
“A mask machine is a real cash printer,” Shi Xinghui, a sales manager of an N95 mask manufacturer in China, told Agence France-Presse.
“The profit of a mask now is at least several cents compared to less than one in the past,” Xinghui added. “Printing 60,000 or 70,000 masks a day is equivalent to printing money.”
Mask-making machines “pay for themselves in 15 days,” the owner of another Chinese mask manufacturer told AFP.
A director at a company that helps factories obtain certification to sell their products told the FT that “everyone wants to profit from the global shortage.”
But defective products remain a serious problem. Several countries have already recalled or stopped using hundreds of thousands of faulty masks and coronavirus tests they received from Chinese manufacturers.
Manufacturers have used regulatory loopholes to quickly start selling masks in the United States, the FT reported.
“Some Chinese factories are so keen to make a fortune from the virus that they are cutting corners where they can,” Jian Runfu, an official at a medical equipment trade association, told the FT.
Runfu said the rate of defective masks has doubled from the start of 2020.