This (Covid-19) is like nothing the world has ever seen.  Just because the pubs are open, it doesn’t change the fact that this is still the greatest public health crisis in recent history.  It isn’t going to go away any time soon – so your work is not done (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images).

Over 70 million face masks will be manufactured in the UK and delivered to frontline health and care workers following a deal with a global technology company, the government announced on Friday (15).

New FFP2 and FFP3 masks will be produced over an 18-month period at Honeywell’s site in Newhouse, Scotland, with production set to begin as early as July.

Each month will see up to 4.5 million masks roll off the production line, ready for distribution to frontline NHS and social care workers.

It marks a significant moment in the government’s ‘make’ programme, headed up by Lord Deighton, which seeks to unleash the potential of UK industry to scale up domestic PPE manufacturing.

The move supports the government’s continued efforts to ensure PPE reaches those fighting the virus on the frontline, with over 1.25 billion items of PPE delivered to health and social care workers since the outbreak began.

Additionally, the new production line will create approximately 450 new jobs at the Scotland site.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These 70 million masks are the result of our challenge to UK industry to scale up domestic PPE manufacturing.

“This deal is brilliant news for the whole United Kingdom which will not only deliver the masks we need but create around 450 jobs in Newhouse, Scotland.

“I’m delighted to team up with Honeywell to open up another avenue to get millions of masks to the frontline and strengthen our ongoing response to the outbreak.

Lord Paul Deighton, adviser to the Secretary of State on PPE, said: “…My role is to increase our homegrown PPE supplies, both now and in the future, by investing in the potential of UK manufacturing. This fantastic deal announced with Honeywell today marks a significant step along the way.”

The government has ordered 70 million of the locally produced FFP2 and FFP3 Honeywell SuperOne disposable respirator masks. Certified to the highest international PPE standards and compliant with EU regulations, these masks must meet UK quality and safety standards before they are delivered to healthcare settings via the NHS Supply Chain from July.

Will Lange, President of Honeywell’s PPE business, said: “…Our Newhouse facility has both the physical capacity and technical capabilities to launch a large-scale respirator production line in such a short timeframe, and we are proud of our teams who are bringing new manufacturing capabilities to the UK as quickly as possible to support the country’s response to the pandemic.”

The agreement is the latest in a number of steps the government is taking to ramp up PPE production and distribution. New collaborations between the government and organisations, including Amazon, the Royal Mint and Jaguar Land Rover, will see increased production and delivery across all PPE products.

A PPE distribution network with the NHS, industry and armed forces, and a 24-hour NHS-run helpline that’s received around 35,000 calls since it was set up, have also been established as part of the government’s national PPE plan.

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