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Hong Kong scientists say new antiviral coating can protect surfaces for 90 days

The coating, called MAP-1, took 10 years to develop and can be sprayed on surfaces that are frequently used by the public, such as elevator buttons and handrails, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) say.

April 28, 2020 / 08:31 AM IST

Researchers at a Hong Kong university say they have developed an antiviral coating which could provide 90 days of “significant” protection against bacteria and viruses such as the one causing COVID-19.

The coating, called MAP-1, took 10 years to develop and can be sprayed on surfaces that are frequently used by the public, such as elevator buttons and handrails, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) say.

“These places are frequently touched, and, at the same time, serve as a very effective medium for transmission of diseases,” said HKUST Adjunct Professor Joseph Kwan, one of the chief researchers in the team that developed the product.

The coating that forms after spraying has millions of nano-capsules containing disinfectants, which Kwan says remain effective in killing bacteria, viruses and spores even after the coating has dried.

Unlike common disinfecting methods such as diluted bleach and alcohol, MAP-1 is further boosted by heat-sensitive polymers that encapsulate and release disinfectants upon human contact, Kwan said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

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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.

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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.

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It is non-toxic and safe for skin and the environment, the researchers say.

Following clinical tests this year at a Hong Kong hospital and a home for the elderly, the coating has been made available for commercial purchase by Germagic, a unit of the university’s industrial partner, Chiaphua Industries Ltd.

The coating was approved for official and mass consumer use in February, and will hit Hong Kong stores next month.

With help from a local charity, the non-toxic coating has already been sprayed around the homes of more than a thousand low-income families in the city.

“I feel like it has strengthened our protection against the virus,” said Law Ha-yu, a mother of two who lives in a 110-square-foot subdivided unit that was recently sprayed with the coating.

The researchers said shopping malls, schools and sport training facilities in the city have adopted the coating.

Applying the coating at schools costs HK$20,000 ($2,600) to HK$50,000, depending on the size of the sprayed area. The company also plans to introduce 50ml and 200ml domestic use versions with prices ranging from HK$70-250.

Hong Kong reported no new coronavirus cases on Sunday, keeping the total at 1,038 infections and four deaths.
Reuters
first published: Apr 28, 2020 08:31 am

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