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A year of helping fight COVID-19

When the world needs 3M, we’re there to help. That has never been clearer than during our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

3M employees responded early and rapidly to the pandemic, supplying critical products to dedicated frontline health care workers and first responders. In January of last year, we ramped up production to full capacity at our factories making N95 respirators in the U.S. and around the world – doubling production within two months. By the end of the year, we had manufactured 2 billion respirators globally – more than three times the amount we produced in 2019.  

Expanding manufacturing in the U.S. 

As a leading manufacturer of N95 respirators in the U.S., we’ve expanded our domestic manufacturing capacity since the start of the pandemic.

We’re making more respirators than ever before and are still expanding production. In the U.S. alone we’re now manufacturing more than 95 million N95 respirators a month – up from 22 million a month in 2019.

At 3M’s Aberdeen, South Dakota, plant, a new 120,000-square-foot expansion to the 440,000-square-foot facility has added more manufacturing lines and automated equipment. The expansion added more than 100 jobs at Aberdeen’s 3M facility – that’s on top of the 200 jobs added at the plant since the beginning of the pandemic. 

But that’s not the only way 3M is helping. In addition to N95 respirators, 3M has ramped up production of other solutions used in the response to COVID-19, including hand sanitizers and disinfectants. 


Distributing supplies in a time of unprecedented demand

Accelerating the production of respirators was made possible by measures taken by 3M well before the outbreak of COVID-19, including the addition of assembly lines that were put into operation as soon as they were needed.  During the pandemic, 3M has also worked with partners to get real-time data to provide a clearer picture of what supplies it had in stock for better alignment with customer demand.

3M’s quick shift to produce and distribute supplies in a time of unprecedented demand earned us the “Supplier of the Year" award from Supply Chain Dive.


Sharing what we’ve learned

3M supported the United Nations designation of Dec. 27 as the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness and joins the intergovernmental organization in its effort to raise awareness of epidemic preparedness using science-based information and best practices for disease prevention and response.

During the pandemic, 3M has worked closely with governments and the private sector in over 70 countries to assist in efforts to help protect their citizens, health care workers, first responders, and essential workers against COVID-19. In many of those countries over the last two decades, 3M has worked on epidemic preparedness and response initiatives including PPE stockpiling programs.

3M is sharing what it has learned about present and prior efforts around PPE stockpiling programs in a new white paper that details government best practices and suggests how governments can develop resilient and sustainable stockpile programs with these lessons in mind.

How a side project grew into a tool that's helping support the search for a COVID-19 vaccine

Another 3M effort that’s part of today’s fight against COVID-19 had its roots in a small biopharmaceutical filtration project at 3M in the 1990s. 

The 3M™ Emphaze™ AEX Hybrid Purifier uses a unique filter material that captures impurities while allowing the necessary drug substances to pass through the filter. This technology combines two processes into a single step, which can help researchers obtain their final product more efficiently and in greater amounts, something that is important in the race to pursue therapies and vaccines to treat and protect against COVID-19.

“Our products are used by our customers to make treatments and it is especially gratifying to know the science of 3M's solutions can now help with the COVID-19 treatments,” said Jonathan Hester, a research scientist in 3M’s Global Biopharmaceutical Purification business. “It’s great to work on materials that have that impact.”


3M is the partner for innovative solutions 

Early in the outbreak, 3M leaders realized that helping with the fight against COVID-19 was going to require finding new ways to work with other companies and organizations on innovative solutions. Some of the actions we’ve taken to approach the challenge from different angles include:


Supporting well-being in daily life

Along with physical distancing and hand washing, wearing a non-medical face mask is an important step in trying to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to support the well-being of others in the community.

That’s why we have introduced the 3M™ Daily Face Mask, a non-medical, reusable, cloth face mask to help support the general public’s efforts to limit transmission of COVID-19 when shopping, at social gatherings, or in any setting where a face covering is needed.


Protecting the public from fraud 

We launched a global effort to combat fraud and price gouging and help protect the public against those who try to exploit the demand for critical 3M products during a pandemic. We are working with law enforcement authorities, technology companies and online resellers to prevent fraud before it starts and stop it where it is occurring. 

3M has filed 28 lawsuits in federal courts across the United States and in Canada to fight fraud and has won multiple temporary restraining and preliminary injunction orders in these cases, putting a stop to the defendants’ unlawful activities.

We have investigated more than 9,900 reports globally of suspected fraud, counterfeiting and price gouging and have successfully secured the removal of tens of thousands of e-commerce listings with fraudulent or counterfeit product offerings and false or deceptive social media posts.

We’ll donate any monetary damages from these lawsuits to COVID-19 related nonprofits, including Direct Relief. 

3M has also launched a website that provides more information on these and other 3M efforts to fight respirator fraud, counterfeiting and price gouging. 


Helping communities around the world 

3M has responded with cash and product donations since the COVID-19 outbreak began – including respirators, surgical masks and hand sanitizer – through local and global humanitarian aid partners.

We have committed $20 million as a cornerstone financial gift supporting community partners working to address critical needs. In addition, 3M and the 3M Foundation have committed $10 million in cash and product donations to COVID-19 response efforts throughout 2020.

3M has also selected 10 global institutions to receive a total of $5 million in grants for their COVID-19 research and development work.

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