Antibacterial treatment of clothing was already relatively widespread before the Covid-19 outbreak, marketed as a way consumers could critically reduce the frequency of washing their clothes but the pandemic has hastened demand for its protective qualities. The world is facing an unprecedented crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic which has brought fabrics to fore front to control the spread of corona virus in the form of masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not only for corona warriors but for everybody along with social distances and sanitization methods. Given the current world situation of COVID-19 pandemic what could be better than anti-viral clothing that can be useful to anyone and everyone. With an increasing public awareness about infectious diseases, scientists and textile industry are putting efforts to develope hygienic fabrics by the addition of various antimicrobial and antiviral compounds. Research shows that viruses and bacteria can remain active on textile surfaces for up to two days, therefore, efforts have always going on to develop anti-viral/bacterial fabrics for their different utilities but at present they (anti-viral) fabrics are in great demand in order to have not only masks & PPEs but daily wearable clothes in general in order to control the spread of corona virus. This article is an effort to bring out the latest developments in the anti-viral fabric to the reader.
Autoinoculation, where a person puts the virus into their own body after touching a contaminated surface, is generally considered to be a secondary route of infection for corona viruses like Covid-19. Far more common is the airborne transmission of the virus through inhaling droplets after someone has sneezed or coughed. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence that clothing is still a transmission route for viruses, with multiple studies showing that infectious material can linger on fabrics. Fabrics used are supposed to protect the wearer and/or the others but they are also a potential vector for viruses and bacteria during, before and after use but with ordinary fabrics, there is a risk of transferring pathogen to and picking up pathogen from the surfaces of the fabric equipment when picking it up, putting it on or taking off, disposing it unsafely/leaving it lying around, touching it while wearing or for adjustment. Hence, there is always a risk of contracting the virus through touching the face after touching the contaminated surface of the fabrics. While the tests are proving that these treated materials can likely destroy corona viruses a few minutes after contact, what is less clear is how this and other novel technologies such as antimicrobial surfaces can impact a person’s overall chances of catching the illness. As well as the challenge of proving a product’s efficacy, manufacturers must also produce fabrics attractive enough that consumers want to purchase.
Scientists are developing a fiber treatment using photoactive dyes that inactivate enveloped viruses upon illumination with visible light. Dyes which can generate the most single oxygen (the active antiviral agent) per unit light intensity for light sources e.g., solar, incandescent, and fluorescent lamps, will be suitable for the purpose. Researchers propose to modify air filtration textiles with these dye coatings and test efficacy to significantly inactivate influenza viruses trapped on the fiber. Suitability of coating methods will be based on applying the photoactive dye-carrier combinations to air filtration surfaces which will allow maximum singlet oxygen generation. The specially designed antiviral and anti-bacterial fabrics inhibit growth and retention of microorganisms, making them safe and hygienic and the fabrics retain their properties up to even 50 washes.
Some of the latest developments towards anti-viral fabrics are:
Brief biodata of the contributor:
S S Verma, working as Professor in the Department of Physics, SLIET, Longowal (centrally funded institute, established by Govt. of India & funded by MHRD). Teaching Physics to Diploma, Degree and Master of Sciences (in Physics) students since 1994. Did M.Sc. (Physics) (1982) from HP University, Shimla and Ph.D. (1989) from Department of Physics, IIT Delhi. Did post doctoral studies at Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan from October 1991 to March 1993 under Japanese government (MONBUSHO) fellowship.