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COVID Killing Coatings

5 June, 2020

New research may yield health benefits

Two separate teams of university researchers are working towards developing coatings to contain and kill COVID-19.

In a “novel” approach to the novel coronavirus, two researchers at the University of Central Florida are working to come up with a protective coating that could be applied to materials such as masks, gloves, and gowns and that could catch the coronavirus, then kill it within seconds of contact.

Sudipta Seal, an engineer who specializes in material science and nanotechnology, teamed up with Griffith Parks, a virologist at the UCF College of Medicine, to try to create the life-saving nanoparticles. Not only could it help prevent the virus from coming through a mask from the outside environment, but it could catch and kill it on the way out in the event of a cough or sneeze.

The plan is to have Seal create the materials and then send them to Parks, who will test to see which of these materials kill specific viruses and how fast. Parks has what he calls a “dictionary of viruses” and he’ll start testing with those that are similar to COVID-19.

Since Parks’ lab is not certified to work with COVID-19, after any preliminary research, they’ll send their findings to a certified outside facility for further testing and possible approval. This all could take several months but could be a great breakthrough for the safety of those who are working in exposed environments. As time goes on, research could be expanded to combat other disease-causing bacteria as well. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

At the University of Arizona, researchers are working to develop an antimicrobial coating that can keep surfaces clean of COVID-19 for up to 90 days; the research was carried out on a different, less virulent form of the coronavirus.

Charles Gerba, the study’s senior author, noted that spraying the coating reduced the virus by 99.9% just two hours after application. While it was not being suggested as a replacement for regular disinfecting and cleaning, it could have benefits in high use areas such as public transportation or educational institutions where it is infeasible to clean after every human contact. The technology for what’s referred to as “self-disinfecting coatings” has been in use for about a decade.

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