A durable, washable textile coating for PPE kits that can repel viruses? Pitt researchers claim so!

PPE kits that can repel viruses
A health worker helping wearing PPE kit to an another health worker at Guwahati Medical College hospital, during nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Image: Shutterstock.com/ Talukdar David
The Coronavirus pandemic has gripped the globe leaving more than 3 lakh people dead and more than 5 lakh infected. Amid the ongoing crisis, healthcare workers have been risking their lives to save people from the disease, the cure of which is yet to be found.  However, research from the LAMP Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering may provide a little help in fighting COVID-19. As we all know, masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential for protection of healthcare workers. But to their dismay, the textiles and materials used in such items can easily absorb and carry viruses and bacteria, which in turn has the chance to spread the disease the wearer sought to contain. PPE kits that can repel viruses

Reportedly, the Pitt researchers have now created a durable, washable textile coating for PPE kits that can repel viruses.

The newly invented textile coating can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also aid in preventing viruses from sticking to the surface. Journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces recently published the work.

“Recently there’s been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability,” said Anthony Galante, Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt and lead author of the paper. “We want to push the boundary on what is possible with these types of surfaces, and especially given the current pandemic, we knew it’d be important to test against viruses,” he added.

The prominent feature of the textile coating is its ability to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Considering that a protective gown can be only worn once before disposing it off and the current shortage of PPE kits, the latest development certainly comes as a respite as now the material can be properly washed and sanitized.

Durable, Washable Textile Coating Repels Viruses
An illustration shows the treated textile’s ability to repel fluids. Image: University Of Pittsburgh.
What’s more? The researchers also tested the coating against a strain of adenovirus apart from running it through tens of ultrasonic washes, and even scraping it with a sharp razor blade. Albeit, the material was just as effective and health care workers can now breathe a sigh of relief. Nonetheless, the researchers are yet to test the effectiveness of the material against beta coronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19.
“If the treated fabric would repel betacoronavirus, and in particular SARS-CoV-2, this could have a huge impact for healthcare workers and even the general public if PPE, scrubs, or even clothing could be made from protein, blood-, bacteria-, and virus-repelling fabrics,” said Microbiology Laboratory’s Research Director Eric Romanowski. Till then, we hope the material provides better protection to medical caregivers while allowing for the safe reuse of these items because it is paramount given the current global setback.
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PPE kits that can repel viruses
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