Chemical engineering professor William Ducker of Virginia Tech has developed a new type of surface coating that is able to inactivate the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, the institution has announced. The coating can be painted onto commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs and faucets where it renders the virus useless within an hour.
SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus that is transmitted through droplets resulting from coughing, sneezing, and even just breathing. These droplets land on surfaces where they may deposit the virus, potentially infecting anyone who touches that surface and then touches their face before washing their hands. For these reasons, face masks and frequent hand washing are the two biggest ways to slow the spread of the virus.
According to a new announcement from Virginia Tech, Ducker was one of four people working on this project who were given ‘essential personnel status’ at the institution, enabling them to continue working in their labs while the rest of the campus was shut down due to the virus. The surface coating has been tested and found capable of inactivating 99.9-percent of the novel coronavirus in an hour.
This rapid inactivation of the virus was found on stainless steel and glass coated with the film compared to non-coated surfaces. The coating is still effective after spending a week submerged in water and after repeated exposure to the virus and disinfectants, according to the researchers.
Of course, the coating alone wouldn’t be enough to prevent the spread of the virus — it may, however, be an effective piece of the overall puzzle, chipping away at exposure to help reduce the spread of the disease. At this point, the researchers hope that funding will come through that enables this coating to be mass produced.