The Silver Bullet We Need to Stop COVID: It is Silver? Is it Copper?

By: Lee Rickwood

December 11, 2020

Is there a silver bullet we can load to fight the continued spread of the coronavirus and the deadly COVID-19 infections it causes?

No.

And yes.

The imminent arrival of several highly-touted COVID vaccines is making headlines around the world; so, too, fervent warnings from public health officials, local and national government leaders, even big pharma executives: a vaccine is no silver bullet.

That reality is fueled at least in part by the viral spread, and the degree with which it has already contaminated a significant portion of the human population, much less the surrounding animal and physical world. Even with an efficient and effective vaccine roll-out, we may need to need to be careful, remain distanced, even masked, for some time.

Is Silver a Silver Bullet? Copper? Canadian Tech Companies Providing Answers

silver particles close up graphic

Some emerging anti-viral technologies and new anti-microbial products on the market are made of silver.

No, they’re not a silver bullet by any means, but some emerging anti-viral technologies and new anti-microbial products on the market are made of silver. No one is saying they’ll stop COVID, but the idea is they could help us manage viral contamination and reduce the number of touch points in which people may come into contact with harmful or even deadly bacteria and viruses.

Silver antimicrobial technology is known to be able to break down viral molecular structures. Research has demonstrated that a silver nanocluster/silica composite coating can reduce the found concentration of SARS-CoV-2 (the formal designation for the COVID-causing virus) to zero.

While initially tested on medical grade PPE, the researchers state clearly that the coating can be deposited on metallic, ceramic, polymeric and glass surfaces. For anyone going into a grocery store, school, hospital, industrial or manufacturing plant, any environment in which surfaces are exposed to many contacts with people, and vice versa, every day, that could be a big relief.

Here in Canada, a new and exclusive distribution agreement between POSTsilver, makers of a silver ion antibacterial film said to kill 99.9% of germs and viruses, and Quebec-based company A2Z Wholesale has been launched to bring an array of solution to market.

POSTsilver’s transparent smart material was created to protect high-touch surfaces where retransmission of bacteria and viruses—like COVID-19—are often found. The proprietary nanosilver antimicrobial technology is described as non-toxic and provides sterilization, disinfection, and antimicrobial reduction for up to five years. The material adheres to a different surfaces like those of grocery carts, door handles, ATM machines, vehicle surfaces, restaurant counters and more.

mmagnified smartphone screenAnd now POSTsilver has launched a bacteria and virus killing smartphone screen protector.

POSTsilver’s protective multilayer film is manufactured from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), said to be smudge proof, scratch and shock resistant, while maintaining the reactivity and clear visibility of the screen. POSTsilver says the material is free from any harmful chemicals, has been tested against international standards, and is ROHS-compliant.

A spokesperson told WhatsYourTech.ca that the company is going “to expand the range of offerings to other manufacturers’ phones and devices. We believe that antimicrobial protection will become the standard moving forward (and with good reason). And we definitely want to play a part in that.”

While the POSTsilver iPhone screen protector is pre-cut to shape and size, the company does have protective material in various film formats that can be cut to desired size and intended purpose.

POSTsilver is available for all new iPhone models—including iPhone 12, iPhone 11, and iPhone X— and the company reports it is in discussion with retailers to launch in stores as well online platforms like Amazon. 

Meanwhile, the resource company Teck has announced tests of antimicrobial copper coatings on high-touch surfaces like those in public transport systems.

woman wearing mask holds post while riding bus

The resource company Teck is testing antimicrobial copper coatings on high-touch surfaces like those in public transport systems. Teck image.

The B.C.-based company is partnering with provincial transport authority TransLink, Vancouver Coastal Health, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Coalition for Healthcare Acquired Infection Reduction (CHAIR), and the University of British Columbia for the project.

This project builds on preceding research and will increase our understanding of the effectiveness of copper in killing organisms on frequently-touched surfaces. Positive findings will then be used to study the impact of copper on bacteria and viruses such as COVID-19 and norovirus,” said Dr. Marthe Charles, Medical Microbiologist at Vancouver Coastal Health.

Gold Standard Pandemic Responses

As research and studies continue into the antibacterial properties of various materials and their efficacy in the fight against COVID-19, in fact we do already know full well what some of the best responses are.

They’re not copper, not silver, but they are the gold standard in protecting public health in a pandemic:

Wash hands, cover nose and mouth, wear masks;

Avoid crowds, maintain distances, reduce unnecessary travel;

Stay home if unwell, follow public health advice, get immunized when possible.

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