This One Thing Can Kill 99.9 Percent of Coronavirus in an Hour

You're just two coats of "paint" away from COVID protection.

The coronavirus pandemic has made many people painfully aware of everything they touch. In the first few months of the pandemic, disinfectants were flying off the shelves as people tried to keep their home COVID-free. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance on COVID-19 to reflect that it mainly spreads from person-to-person contact, there's still a possibility of contracting the virus through viral particles on a contaminated surface. To combat that source of infection, a chemical engineering professor might have a solution that can kill 99.9 percent of the coronavirus in just one hour.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, William Ducker, PhD, a professor at Virginia Tech, has been working diligently on a product that could help put everyone's mind at ease. According to Virginia Tech Daily (VTD), Ducker "has developed a surface coating that when painted on common objects, inactivates SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19." Ducker explained to VTD that "the idea is when the droplets land on a solid object, the virus within the droplets will be inactivated" by the coating.

Ducker sent coated samples to Leo Poon, DPhil, a professor and researcher at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, who tested the innovative coating's effectiveness in inactivating the virus as part of a study published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. According to the study, "after one hour on coated glass or stainless steel, the viral titer was reduced by about 99.9 percent on average compared to the uncoated sample." The study also found that the coating is versatile and works well on "everyday items that people may fear to touch during a pandemic, such as a doorknob, a pen, and a credit card keypad button."

Person pushing shopping car wearing gloves during coronavirus pandemic

If an hour seems too long for your liking, don't worry—Ducker is working on developing and testing speedier solutions. He told Virginia's National Public Radio affiliate WVTF, "An hour is not good enough. I want it to work in minutes. Professor Poon is testing it now in a shorter time period. And I want to redesign the film, so it works really, really quickly."

Although there may be more advanced versions coming down the pipeline, the current coating is already long-lasting and durable. The coating was found to be "active after 13 days immersed in water, or after exposure to multiple cycles of exposure to virus and disinfection," per the ACS study.

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The current coating is a mixture of cuprous oxide–a form of copper–and polyurethane, according to WVTF. "Cuprous oxide is cheap. It's a mineral that they dig out of the earth. And I thought that would be better and cheaper and easier to make a film [to coat an object] because instead of making a whole object, it's really only necessary to make the coating," Ducker said.

He is confident anyone could use this powerful paint—so once the product is widely available, you're just two coats away from another layer of COVID-19 protection. The coating has a signature dark orange color from the trace amounts of copper, and Ducker hopes this color will come to signify safety to the general public with the paint used in "public transit, air travel, daycare centers, offices, and classrooms." And for more COVID-killing innovations, This Invention Could Kill 99.8 Percent of COVID Particles in Your Home.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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