Coronavirus: New face mask that kills viruses could be available by December

New face mask that kills coronavirus could be available by December (Image: Nottingham Trent University WS)

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While face masks were once rare sightings, they’re now compulsory in several settings across the UK.

Now, a new antiviral face mask has been developed that can kill viruses including Covid-19 and influenza upon contact.

The mask, which was developed by a Nottingham Trent University scientist, could be available as early as December 2020.

While most face masks feature a three-layer design, this mask features five layers, including an antiviral layer made of nano-copper.

The copper has ions that are emitted once in contact with a virus, causing the virus to die and stop reproducing.

Dr Gareth Cave, who designed the mask, said: “The mask we’ve developed has been proven to inactivate viruses upon contact; the antiviral layer kills virus which has been blocked by the filter layers.

While most face masks feature a three-layer design, this masks features five layers, including an antiviral layer made of nano-copper
(Image: Nottingham Trent University WS)

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“The challenge with conventional surgical-type masks is that they only block virus from entering or exiting the mask. They don’t have an active mechanism for killing it once it’s trapped in the mask.

“Our new antiviral mask has been designed to utilise the existing barrier technology and combine it with our nanotechnology to kill the virus once it is trapped there.

“We’ve added the barrier layer to both sides of the mask so not only does it protect the wearer but also those around. By killing the virus on contact, it also means that the used face mask can be safely disposed of and not be a potential source of passive transfer.”

During tests, the face mask was shown to be able to kill more than 90% of coronavirus and influenza viruses over seven hours, and had a filtration efficiency of 99.98%.

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The masks are expected to go into production this month, and will be commercially available from December for healthcare, transport and food service settings.

While the researchers haven’t explicitly said how much the masks will cost, they say they’ll be in line with current Type IIR mask prices, which retail for around £10 for a box of 50.

Dr Cave added: “It’s exciting to see our technology move forward and make a real impact towards the fight against the spread of COVID-19.”

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