UArizona testing long-lasting virus disinfectant

Surface disinfection to last several weeks
Posted at 6:02 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 14:25:36-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — KGUN9 wants to help you rebound back to a normal life, or maybe a better one than before the coronavirus turned life upside down. Now, University of Arizona researchers are testing a product to keep you safer from the virus as you return to places where just a touch could infect you.

One of the things affecting our ability to rebound is our confidence when we go out in public places. Are we confident, the things we touch have been adequately cleaned? There’s a UArizona program testing a product by Allied BioScience that could be a long term solution.

One of the trickier questions about COVID-19 is how long it can live on surfaces where you might pick it up with just a touch. There are disinfectants that reliably kill the virus, but fresh virus can land in the same spot as soon as someone touches it.

“You know, even the University of Arizona, because we have classes coming in and out in the same room, you can't afford to disinfect the classroom every time a new class comes in there," UArizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba said.

So Dr. Gerba and a team of researchers at UArizona are testing a long-lasting disinfectant that can stick to a surface and kill coronavirus for two weeks or maybe more. The product is being developed by Texas-based Allied BioScience.

It would be great for places like mass transit or shopping malls packed with plenty of people touching and maybe laying down fresh layers of virus.

Testing includes making sure the coating doesn’t rub off right away in the wear of daily life.

“These surface coatings are tested," Dr. Gerba says. "Over time, we may rub the surfaces as many as 30 times or, if it's like clothing, you wash it 30 times to make sure the product is still there. It's got to be resilient.”

Dr. Gerba says in tests, the coating did a good job reducing the virus in hospitals. He says it should be available soon to help keep our hands-on habits from making us sick.

“A hundred years ago we were farmers. We were out in the field all of the time. Now we’re inside pushing buttons, banking machines, tellers, indoor computers, cell phones. You’re touching more surfaces than any generation in history - more than an individual has ever touched before,” Dr. Gerba said.