Hong Kong researchers say they’ve developed an antiviral coating that lasts for 90 days

The coating has been under development for 10 years, it lasts for 90 days, and a 50 ml bottle would cost around $9.

The antiviral coating could be used on commonly-used surfaces such as elevator buttons, door handles, school benches, or ATMs. Image credits: Jason Dent.

The coating, called MAP-1, can be sprayed on multiple types of surfaces, including surfaces which are often used by the public, such as elevator buttons and handrails, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) say.

“These places are frequently touched, and, at the same time, serve as a very effective medium for transmission of diseases,” said HKUST Adjunct Professor Joseph Kwan, one of the chief researchers in the team that developed the product.

The coating is non-toxic for humans and the environment and has already been approved for mass consumption. The antiviral coating is expected to hit the shelves next month.

Unlike common disinfectants, this coating lasts for up to 90 days, and MAP-1 is also boosted by heat-sensitive polymers that release disinfectants when touched by humans, Kwan explains.

The coating underwent clinical tests at a Hong Kong hospital and a home for the elderly, where it proved to be efficient.

The coating is already being used against the novel coronavirus. With the help of a local charity, the non-toxic coating was sprayed in the homes of more than a thousand low-income families in the city, to help protect them against COVID-19

“I feel like it has strengthened our protection against the virus,” said Law Ha-yu, a mother of two who lives in a 110-square-foot subdivided unit that was recently sprayed with the coating.

The coating is also not very expensive. Applying the coating at an entire school would cost between HK$20,000 ($2,600) to HK$50,000, depending on the size of the sprayed area. The company also announced that smaller bottles of 50ml and 200ml will be introduced for domestic use, with prices ranging from HK$70-250 — a price that will be accessible to most households.

Hong Kong has been exemplary in its management of the coronavirus situation, completely flattening the curve and reporting only a couple of new cases for the past few days. In total, Hong Kong has had 1,038 infections despite having one of the earliest outbreaks.

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