As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes a growing global concern, SteriTouch have been approached by a number of customers asking for advice and our stance on the use of antimicrobial technology to combat the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. While we have developed a strong reputation in the antibacterial sector, we have always approached anti-viral claims with caution and have encouraged our customers to do the same.
What is the purpose of making a surface antimicrobial?
SteriTouch additives eradicate the bacteria which cause contamination and infection, as well as those responsible for odours and staining. The antimicrobial effect also protects the product against degradation, extending its use.
The purpose of SteriTouch is not to create a sterile environment - we all know that being exposed to certain types of bacteria builds a healthy immune system. However, bacterial infections such as MRSA, E. coli and Listeria can be very serious and SteriTouch acts as a complementary measure to routine cleaning.
Will SteriTouch antimicrobial additives kill Coronavirus?
Coronavirus COVID-19 is an enveloped virus, so called because of its fatty outer membrane or 'envelope'. Several of the active substances we use have been successfully tested against other enveloped viruses, such as Influenza, Avian flu and SARS. It would be reasonable to imply that those same active substances would be effective against COVID-19, but at this stage testing against COVID-19 is not available.
Irrespective of the efficacy of the active substances against other enveloped viruses, we would consider it critical that anti-viral claims are made only after the actual material or product has been tested. The very evident variation in performance of an active substance incorporated into different materials, or even into different grades of the same material, means that it would be unwise to infer efficacy in one material simply because an active has proven performance in another.
Anti-virus testing is significantly more expensive than antibacterial testing, which is understandably prohibitive for some companies. However, an anti-virus test certificate for 'ABS' or 'Polycarbonate' should be considered irrelevant unless the testing was carried out in your specific grade of ABS or your specific grade of polycarbonate.
What can we do to best protect ourselves?
The mechanisms by which COVID-19 spreads are not yet entirely understood, but the consensus is that they are transmitted in the same manner as other viruses including SARS and MERS, through respiratory droplets. These might be inhaled or ingested, through hand to mouth contact. For this reason, hand hygiene is of paramount important, moreso than the use of masks which may be of limited benefit in preventing the inhalation of the virus. Regular and thorough hand washing, coupled with the use of sanitising products such as alcohol gels, is probably the best approach to minimising infection risk. Current advice can be found on the websites of CDC (Centres for Disease Control), NHS, Public Health England and WHO (World Health organisation).
Helpful resources for controlling the spread of infection can be found below: