According to a new research paper by the University of Arizona (UA), preliminary studies suggest that specially formulated antimicrobial layers can keep surfaces free from human coronavirus for up to 90 days with a single application.
The study which has not yet been peer-reviewed discovered that the amount of virus on covered surfaces reduced by 90 percent in 10 minutes and by 99.9 percent in two hours.
“This is the next the next advancement in infection control. I think it’s mostly important for high-use surfaces like subways and buses, because you could disinfect them but then the next people that come in there will recontaminate the surfaces. It’s not a substitute for regular cleaning and disinfecting, but it covers you in between regular disinfecting and cleaning.”
The UA team tested a coating specifically designed to act against viruses that were developed by the company Allied BioScience, which also funded their study.
The researchers conducted their trial on human coronavirus 229E, which is comparable in structure and genetics to SARS-CoV-2 but causes only mild cold symptoms and was, therefore, safer to use. The coating works by “denaturing” the virus’ proteins – effectively bending them out of shape – and attacking its protective layer of fat.
The colorless substance is sprayed on surfaces and has to be reapplied every three to four months. The technology behind so-called self-disinfecting coatings has been around for almost a decade and has earlier been used in hospitals to fight against the spread of infection, including against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A 2019 research paper by UA researchers found that coatings reduced hospital-acquired infections by 36 percent.