BLACKSBURG, Va. – Viruses can survive on surfaces like doorknobs, shopping carts, and light switches for hours or even days. In the case of COVID-19, scientists believe the virus lives longest on plastic and stainless steel. To solve this problem, a Virginia Tech professor says he has created a new anti-coronavirus coating that can be painted onto surfaces and stops the illness in just an hour.
Although the greatest potential for transmitting SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through respiratory droplets, surface contact remains a threat for getting people sick.
Durable protection against COVID-19
“The idea is when the droplets land on a solid object, the virus within the droplets will be inactivated,” lead researcher William Ducker says in a media release.
After creating the anti-viral coating, the VT team sent samples off to Leo Poon, a professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health. There, researchers tested the invention’s ability to shut down SARS-CoV-2.
Study authors find the coating is remarkably effective, durable, and long lasting. When using it on glass or stainless steel, Ducker’s coating reduces the amount of virus by 99.9 percent in one hour. Moreover, it does not peel off after being cut with a razor blade.
The coating also deactivates SARS-CoV-2 even after multiple rounds of virus exposure or submergence in water for a week.
Finding funds to protect surfaces
“One hour is the shortest period that we have tested so far, and tests at shorter periods are ongoing,” the chemical engineering professor details. Ducker adds he expects further tests will reveal the anti-viral coating works even faster than in Poon’s experiments.
Next, the VT researchers plan to secure enough funding to mass produce the invention.
“Everybody is worried about touching objects that may have the coronavirus,” Ducker explains. “It would help people to relax a little bit.”
The study is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.