The text below was a part of a global COVID-19 solution challenge. It was rejected by World Health Organisation representatives but may be of interest of other organisations. It was submitted on may 24, 2020 and is based on the information available up to this date.
Transmission of viruses and bacteria depends a lot on personal hygiene since they are spread by close contact or touching contaminated surfaces. The moment we touch a surface, we exchange germs with it, and the previous people who used it if not disinfected.
Washing hands frequently unfortunately is not enough and often done wrongly. The most efficient way to clean hands is by washing them with soap and water. The first thing we touch on the sink before washing hands is the tap which we touch again when we are done washing. Sometimes we touch the tap to adjust the water temperature. We touch the soap dispenser, sometimes more than once. The result is that in the end of the hand washing we may end up with more germs than in the beginning. People probably don’t even realise it, but since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic emerged there are plenty of videos (tutorials) about it with the same mistake (including by world and local health authorities) – at some point the tap and/or the soap dispenser is touched with dirty hands. The only way to avoid it is quite easy – hands free hand washing which, despite not being new unfortunately is not widely spread. Implementing motion activated sinks and soap dispensers everywhere is not time consuming and less expensive than closing a business because someone got SARS-CoV-2 or other virus.
Less touching leads to less spreading of the virus, but sinks aren’t the only place we can exchange germs of course – buttons in the elevators, doorbells, and door handles to name a few. Not all can be activated by movement, especially the buttons in elevators and door bells. Some could be activated by voice but that doesn’t work in a global world where people have different accents. Apps could be in use in office buildings, condos and houses, but there could be security issues. There should be an easy and non time-consuming way to prevent virus collection on all surfaces. The most common way to clean surfaces is frequent cleaning with disinfectants but it’s time consuming and not applicable to all surfaces. UV light is a natural disinfectant and could be used for decontamination. Installing UV lamps is an efficient and low maintenance way to prevent spreading of coronavirus, and other germs, but of course there are spaces and situations where this is not applicable.
The only way to achieve it is by using coatings to which the virus can’t attach. Since coronavirus is a negatively charged particle all surfaces simply need to be coated with a substance which is negatively charged too. This is based on Coulomb’s law: Like charges repel each other; unlike charges attract. The negatively charged carbon nanodots are suitable candidates but there are more. Testing and implementing wouldn’t take a long time. Since SARS-CoV-2 aerosol transmission pathway in hospitals is mediated by the surface deposition on and resuspension from medical staff protective apparel and surface floor this kind of coatings will be essential for cutting the SARS-CoV-2 spread and saving lives. If suitable such coatings could be applied on face masks and gloves. A potential personal protection equipment solution which could be eco friendly too would be making such from a substance like the hydrogel used for wound healing with negative charged coating.