COVID-killing coating developed for face masks


Thursday, 16 September, 2021

COVID-killing coating developed for face masks

An antiviral surface coating technology, developed for use on surfaces and face masks, could provide an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 and the flu.

The spray-on coating was created as a joint research project between The University of Queensland (UQ) and Boeing, and was tested at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at The University of Melbourne. The test results, published in the journal ACS Nano, reveal that the coating has proven effective in killing the virus that causes COVID-19, showing promise as a barrier against transmission on surfaces and face masks.

As explained by Professor Michael Monteiro, a researcher at UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the water-based coating deploys worm-like structures that attack the virus.

“These polymer ‘nanoworms’ rupture the membrane of virus droplets transmitted through coughing, sneezing or saliva and damage their RNA,” Prof Monteiro said.

“When surgical masks were sprayed with these nanoworms, it resulted in complete inactivation of the Alpha variant of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A.”

The coating is environmentally friendly and water-based, and its synthesis aligns with manufacturing techniques used in the paint and coatings industry. Furthermore, Prof Monteiro noted, “The chemistry involved is versatile, so the coating can be readily redesigned to target emerging viruses and aid in controlling future pandemics.”

Prof Monteiro said face masks would continue to be an important part of helping prevent or reduce community transmission of COVID-19.

“Antiviral coatings applied on mask surfaces could reduce infection and provide long-lasting control measures to eliminate both surface and aerosolised transmission,” he said.

“We know that COVID-19 remains infectious for many hours or days on some surfaces, and provides a direct route to infection.

“Therefore, there is greater emphasis on eliminating both surface and airborne transmission to complement vaccination of the population to stop the current pandemic.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/PhotoGranary

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