Anti-viral coating on masks can kill coronavirus variants up to 95 per cent, finds study -
Anti-viral coating on masks can kill coronavirus variants up to 95 per cent, finds study
Posted 16 Feb 2021 01:30 PM


Anti-viral coating on masks can kill coronavirus variants up to 95 per cent, finds study


The new variants of the novel coronavirus, such as the KENT mutation found in the UK, or the subsequent ones discovered in South Africa and other countries have really worried researchers, medical professionals, and the general public. While some experts say that the current vaccines and methods of prevention will protect people from the new strains of COVID, other experts are apprehensive about their efficacy, given how quickly the virus is mutating. However, following preventive measures such as wearing a mask remain of utmost importance even now, as new strains of the virus emerge. Just as researchers may have to tweak vaccines in order to fit the new strains, the study suggests that similar changes may also be needed to be made when it comes to masks. An anti-viral coating on face masks may prove effective against the new coronavirus variants, a new study suggests.

The anti-viral coating on masks can kill coronavirus variants up to 95 per cent
Scientists at the University of Cambridge working with an anti-viral coating technology called DioX said that it could protect face mask users by killing the deadly coronavirus, in less than an hour's time. This coating reportedly attacks the virus by rupturing its outer layer, effectively eliminating all-new mutant variants, including the UK's Kent variant, and the South African variant. �The antiviral agent within the coating of the mask kills the virus by breaching its protective outer membrane, which is known as its envelope. Unlike other parts of the virus, the membrane remains the same regardless of any type of mutation. Hence this way of attacking the pathogen will work on any new variant of coronavirus,� Dr Graham Christie, senior lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge, reportedly said. �In fact, you could mutate the entire genome of the virus and it would have no effect on the envelope. We expect to see the same response regardless of the strain of coronavirus because structurally they are all very similar,� he added.

The coating can kill up to 95 per cent of mutations
As per the reports, the anti-viral coating on the face masks will be able to effectively kill 95 per cent of pathogens on its surface, within one hour. These pathogens become undetectable after four hours. Experts say the action of the antiviral agent continues to work because it is unaffected by changes in the spike protein of the virus, which is the method by which coronavirus mutates. �The variants that we are seeing occur in the spike proteins that stud the surface of the virus rather than the membrane of the envelope,� said Dr Christie. �It is the genetic information that encodes this protein that is mutating, and this is leading to very slight structural changes in the shape of the spike. However, the envelope is derived from part of a human cell that the virus grabs from its host in order to protect its genetic material. It is made from lipids, which unlike the proteins do not change,� he said.

Can these masks with anti-viral coating be reused?
The best part about these masks is that they can be used, and even washed up to 20 times. However, they may be subject to reduced efficacy after multiple washes. During the study, the mask was tested on a coronavirus called MHV-A59, which is genetically and structurally very similar to SARS-CoV-2. �The Cambridge work followed industry standards for the testing of viruses on material,� said Andy Middleton, co-founder of Liquid Nano, the UK company which commissioned the study. �It also made some critical adaptations to give it a more �real-world� relevance. This included conducting splash tests to mimic sneezing, helping to ensure the tests were as rigorous as possible. We have taken a proven antiviral agent and developed it for fabric in order to create a user-friendly mask,� he said. Masking has been touted as one of the key ways for prevention of the novel coronavirus infection, since the initial days of the pandemic. Masks have played a vital role in keeping the infection curbed, and even double masking has now been recommended by experts and some global health agencies.

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