Can Antimicrobial, Antiviral Surface Coatings Curb the Spread of COVID-19?

Published on 22 Jul, 2020

An antimicrobial surface coating is widely used to control the growth of pathogens on surfaces and in building facilities. Currently, scientists and researchers are working closely with the paint and coatings industry players across the globe to develop antimicrobial, antiviral coating solutions that would prevent the spread of COVID-19 through surface contamination.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life worldwide. The number of confirmed cases is surging, and although countries are slowly opening up, there is a constant fear of a second wave. As on July 16, 2020, the virus had infected over 13.7 million people globally, with around 580,000+ reported fatalities. The transmission of this deadly virus occurs through direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with contaminated surfaces.

According to the studies conducted by National Institutes of Health, UCLA, CDC, and Princeton University scientists, the coronavirus can survive on various surfaces for a long time. The survival span of the virus depends on several factors, such as the surface type, temperature, and the specific strain. For example, it can survive for 24 hours on cardboard and 48 hours on stainless steel and wood. On plastics and glass, it can last for 72 hours and 84 hours, respectively.

It is critical to find a solution that can overcome or neutralize the virus present on surfaces. Researchers globally, are channelizing their resources to discover focused solutions that can address the need of the hour – that is to find a solution that would prevent the spread of COVID-19 through surfaces. Currently, the paint and coatings industry is focusing on developing an antiviral coating solutions that would neutralize bacteria and virus present on various types of surfaces.

Usage of antimicrobial surface coating
An antimicrobial / antiviral surface coating, when applied on walls, door handles, glass panels, as well as high-tech components such as HVAC vents and medical systems, constrains bacterial adhesion and subsequent biofilm formation. The coating thus reduces the risk of environmental infections.

Race to develop antimicrobial, antiviral coating
Scientists at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel are developing an anti-coronavirus surface coating using nanoparticles of safe metal ions and polymers such as copper, which can be sprayed or painted on surfaces and has antimicrobial as well as antiviral properties. This coating can eradicate the coronavirus particles that stick to a surface. Once finalized, it would be deployed in hospitals and public areas, such as schools, metro stations, airports, and bus stations, to neutralize the effects of viruses and bacteria.

Nippon Paint, a Japan-based paint and coatings manufacturing company, and Corning, Inc., a multinational technology company, have introduced “Antivirus Kids Paint”. This innovative product has been created by incorporating Corning Guardiant Antimicrobial Particles, an emerging technology that safeguards against viruses. It has been specially developed to protect frontline healthcare workers from viruses that adhere to different surfaces in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Texas-based Microchem Laboratory tested the product in January 2020 and found that it can inactivate 99.9% of the Feline Calicivirus that causes upper respiratory infection. Additionally, the coating is able to destroy harmful bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli (Escherichia coli), and Staphylococcus aureus. Nippon Paint and Corning, Inc. have donated Antivirus Kids Paint worth RMB 5 million (~ USD 715,450/-) to four Chinese hospitals in Hubei Province.

Future of antimicrobial, antiviral surface coating
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the growth in demand of antimicrobial, antiviral coatings in the medical and healthcare sector. Currently, temporary hospitals and healthcare facilities are being set up in many countries to treat the rising number of COVID-19 cases. To eliminate infectious viruses and bacteria from surfaces, antimicrobial, antiviral coatings are being applied on door handles, trails, beds, and medical instruments in these facilities.

The demand for antimicrobial, antiviral coatings would continue to grow on account of increase in construction and renovation activities as well as growing demand for safe environments in the “new normal” circumstances. The paint and coatings industry is thus set to play a vital role in the war against the ongoing pandemic. In the current scenario, hopes are pinned on the effectiveness of antimicrobial, antiviral coatings to help curb the spread of the fatal COVID-19.