Scientists in Portugal are claiming a major breakthrough in COVID-19 protection technology.
They have designed a new face mask with a special coating they say helps to “deactivate” the new coronavirus when it comes into contact with the fabric.
The team says this protective effect remains the same even after 50 washes, making the mask highly reusable.
The coating on the mask can reduce the infectious units of the virus by 99% in half an hour, said Pedro Simas from the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Lisbon (IMM), one of the virologists who worked on this design.
While it sounds too good to be true, Simas doesn’t think it’s a game-changer.
He insists that masks in general, combined with social distancing measures, are the game-changer.
“These viruses are transmitted through large droplets – respiratory droplets, around one millimetre in diameter,” he explained. “So any barrier that stops these large droplets from accessing to your respiratory system is very effective.”
“I think this is just another tool, another element on a mask, that in addition to a physical barrier, can now provide a chemical barrier,” he said.
The active ingredient of these masks has already been successfully tested by France’s Institut Pasteur de Lille against the H1N1 virus and against the rotavirus, the IMM said in a statement.
For those worried about the coating, the face-covering is OEKO-Tex certified, meaning it contains no harmful substances and is safe for human use.
Whether it’s this coated mask or basic disposable ones, Simas hopes more people will be convinced to cover their mouths and noses throughout the pandemic.
“It’s so simple, and it’s such a small sacrifice,” he said.
“I know that it’s not comfortable, we cannot see emotions, and it’s aggressive, but it’s a very important tool, a very small sacrifice to save lives.”
Watch highlights of the interview in the video player above.