Touch test: Experts check if certain surfaces can kill Covid

Team of physicists and virologists research how effective different surfaces and coatings are in stopping spread.

Touch test: Experts check if certain surfaces can kill Covid Getty Images

Experts are testing different surfaces and coatings to see how effective they are in killing Covid.

The project, undertaken by physicists and virologists at St Andrews University, has been called a potential “game changer” in the fight to contain the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus can be transmitted through contract with surfaces in public spaces, which are touched by lots of people, such as door handles or hand railings.

Previous research shows the virus survives for a significant amount of time on materials commonly used for touch surfaces, like stainless steel and plastic.

However, the university research team will build upon existing knowledge about the antiviral properties of copper and other more complex materials.

The findings could be used for surface treatments, which could be applied to inhibit and delay transmission in public areas, helping to prevent further spread of infection.

The cross-disciplinary St Andrews team consists of Professor Peter Wahl, Professor Philip King, and Professor Andrea Di Falco from the School of Physics and Astronomy, as well as Dr Catherine Adamson and Professor Terry Smith from the School of Biology.

Dr Catherine Adamson said: “This would potentially be a game changer for high-traffic surfaces in public spaces. We will build on existing knowledge about the antiviral properties of copper, and seek to optimise them.”

Professor Di Falco added: “We propose the development and easy deployment of surface materials and coatings that can actively inhibit and retard the spread of the virus from an infected person to others via touch surfaces, by deactivating it.”

The team of academics has won £270,000 in UK Government funding to carry out the research.

Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “It’s fantastic that Scottish researchers are responding to the pandemic and exploring one of the key issues – Covid-19 transmission through contact with surfaces in public spaces.

“The more we know about this virus the better we will be at fighting it. This funding is well deserved and an important contribution to tackling Covid-19.”

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