A slew of appliances claim to kill the coronavirus present on surfaces, food, air and even water in a few minutes. But are they the need of the hour?
From waking up to going back to bed, the fear of COVID-19 infection is real. To ensure that customers derive the maximum value out of appliances amidst the pandemic, consumer durables firms have gone viral on ‘antivirus’ goods.
Due to inadequate research on this matter, there is no clear evidence to show exactly which surface can sustain the COVID-19 virus and for how long. This has driven a new sort of paranoia among Indian customers.
One may keep using a hand sanitiser or disinfectant spray. But this is not 100 percent fool-proof in case the virus load on a surface is high.
However, certain technologies like UVC and Plasmacluster have laboratory-tested results showing that it can eliminate viruses like COVID-19. This led to a slew of products being launched one after another just ahead of the festive purchase/sale season.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Let us start from your daily newspaper and morning coffee. Are you scared about contracting the virus from the newspaper? Chances are low but what if you do? Not to worry. You have a range of UV sanitisation devices available in the market for as low as Rs 9,000.
You can disinfect your favourite newspapers and magazines at the press of a button in less than 10 minutes.
What’s best is that even the milk and apples that may consume from breakfast could be potentially disinfected in these portable devices within minutes.
You could also disinfect your wallet, cash notes and even credit/debit cards on a daily basis in these devices. in case you are extremely paranoid about catching COVID-19.
Next comes the water you drink. While a range of water purifiers were available in the market claiming to kill 99.9 percent of the virus and bacteria, one needs to be doubly sure. Copper-based water purifiers seem to be the new favourite ever since a series of reports stated that this metal can kill Coronavirus within a few hours.
An allied product which is the air purifier, a winter staple of North Indian households is now making inroads into monsoons as well claiming to kill all viruses, including COVID-19. Air purifiers available in the market now claim to have a four-stage filtration to kill all airborne viruses and bacteria inside the house within a few minutes.
Over and above the Rs 9,000 for the UVC disinfection devices and Rs 7,000 for ‘germ-kill’ water purifiers, if customers are willing to spend a minimum of Rs 12,000 an air purifier would have an additional layer of protection. Total money spent? Rs 28,000.
But hey, we aren’t done yet. What about your clothes, your food and the air that you breathe in when it's too hot to keep the windows open? All your needs will be met.
Whether you order food online or cook at home, the food/ingredients need to be sanitised. What if they carry the virus?
Well, you have antiviral ovens with UVC technology that can sanitise/disinfect both cooked and uncooked food within a few minutes. Cost? Between Rs 5,000-10,000.
If you want this layer of protection as well, the total money spent will be close to Rs 38,000.
Coming to the cooling devices next. Considering that air conditioners circulate air within a closed space, there is a risk of contracting the virus in a home setting especially if you are unsure whether your family members/house mates are asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.
If you are ready to spend between Rs 55,000-80,000, you could bring home an AC that could filter out potential viruses within minutes. Appliance makers claim that the new ‘antiviral’ ACs could immediately sterilise bacteria and viruses (like COVID-19) and render them ineffective within seconds.
The money spent so far? At least Rs 93,000. Some may argue this is nothing compared to the Rs 5 lakh average hospital bills for treating Coronavirus.
You could also be given an opportunity to spend another Rs 30,000 in the next 6-8 weeks as appliance makers are also readying plans to launch ‘antiviral’ washing machines that could potentially kill viruses present in masks and clothes. This takes the total money spent on antiviral appliances alone to Rs 1.23 lakh.
Over and above these, you have a range of special antiviral products including mouth spray, plywood, fabric softener, clothes and even face masks that claim to kill ‘COVID-19 instantly’.Or, you could wear a proper face mask, maintain social distancing, self-isolate for two weeks after travel to avail optimum protection against the virus. Multiple ‘antiviral’ appliances or simple prevention techniques? You choose.