Scientists at Victoria University in Wellington have developed a coating which kills Covid-19 particles.
Inhibit Coatings, which is part of the university’s commercial arm, received money from the Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund to see if their previous anti-bacterial technology also worked on coronavirus.
“We were surprised at how good it was working. We can kill 99.9 per cent of human coronavirus in two hours,” said CEO Eldon Tate.
The team have created the coating in a way that means it can be applied to multiple different surfaces, and it has been verified by an independent lab in the United States.
It can be applied to textiles, filters on face masks, and on surfaces inside vehicles such as planes or buses.
Since our borders closed in 2020, there have been a number of incidents involving travellers catching the virus from one another inside managed isolation.
Most recently, a border worker who was fully vaccinated tested positive for Covid-19. They cleaned planes from high-risk countries.
“We definitely see a benefit in de-risking the chance of transmission,” said Tate.
“We’re keen to get it out somewhere where we can potentially stop someone from getting sick.”
Dr Anja Werno from Canterbury Health Laboratories said the new technology could be a helpful addition to our border measures.
“In principle, it’s a good thing to make sure surfaces don’t transmit,” she said.
Also serving on the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group, Werno stressed surface transmission isn’t a primary concern in the fight against the virus.
“Whilst it’s a possibility that you bring it up from surfaces, it’s a respiratory virus so it’s main mode of transmission is by a person inhaling,” she said.
“The focus is very much on keeping the borders tight at this very moment in time. So having something like a surface product is a potential solution to decreasing the chance of transmission. Innovative things like this one may well be something to look at closer.”
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins would not be drawn on whether or not a surface coating would be beneficial at our border.
Instead, he told media last week that the Government continually monitors new ideas.
“Where there’s any new products coming to the market, where people can demonstrate their efficacy, there are avenues for them,” he said.