Derbyshire microbiologist praises 'breakthrough' new chemical in fight against coronavirus

Dr David WebberDr David Webber
Dr David Webber
A microbiologist from Ripley has praised the discovery of a potent and versatile new ‘weapon’ in the war against coronavirus.

Laboratory tests carried out on face masks treated with a novel chemical agent that produces a potent form of oxygen when activated by light, have shown that it can destroy human coronaviruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Microbiologist Dr David Webber, from Ripley, who has advised the NHS on hospital infection control, has said it is “probably the most important breakthrough in infection control for almost half a century”.

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He said: “This is a very exciting development with far-reaching potential for infection control by eradicating pathogenic bacteria and viruses on a vast range of both soft and hard surfaces.

"The ability to deactivate human coronavirus on face masks, as proven by the test results, could be extended to all forms of PPE in all clinical and medical settings, including surgical gowns, aprons, gloves and goggles.”

The tests with the chemical, called SingloTex, showed that almost 99 percent of the human coronavirus deposited on the masks were inactivated after exposure to light.

Dr Webber said: “SingloTex is a photocatalytic agent that can be deposited on or integrated into almost any hard surface including plastics, metal, glass and composites and, as such, it has vast potential as an antimicrobial treatment for medical and surgical instruments and appliances, food processing equipment and sanitary ware.”

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Wearing a face mask has been shown to reduce transmission of coronavirus by at least 50 per cent but if the mask had been treated with SingloTex this would “produce a further significant level of protection” both for the wearer and others who came into contact with them.

Dr Webber added: “This is especially critical for all frontline hospital and healthcare workers but also for anyone in any setting who has to wear a face mask or face covering in public.”