Ask WAVE: When will the anti-viral masks developed at UK be available to the public?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s something many still do: walk into a building and put on a face mask to protect against COVID-19.
While cloth and medical masks serve as fairly protective barriers from the SARS-CoV-2 protein, the viral particles themselves remain active.
In June, researchers at the University of Kentucky announced the development of a higher-tech mask that can capture and deactivate the infectious SARS-CoV-2 protein, instead of merely blocking it.
In August, Peg submitted a question to Ask WAVE: “I would like to know the status of the face masks developed at the University of Kentucky that can capture and deactivate the SARS-CoV-2 protein on contact. Will/when will they be available for the public?”
WAVE News spoke to Dibakar Bhattacharyya, who, along with his Ph.D. student Rollie Mills, led the UK College of Engineering team that developed the anti-viral membrane.
“When the COVID virus hits that, it deactivates,” said Bhattacharyya.
As for the next steps, Bhattacharyya said his team has identified the company that will provide the material for mass-producing the membrane. Now, his team is developing the mask prototype itself.
When asked Peg’s question – when will the masks be available to the public – Bhattacharyya said “months,” not years. Beyond that, he said it’s difficult to nail down a timeline.
Whenever the masks are available to the public, Bhattacharyya said the face covering will be thinner and more breathable than current mask options. Furthermore, because of the antiviral nature of the membrane, the mask will provide another literal and figurative layer of protection against COVID-19–and possibly other viruses.
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