There has been a lot of media about the fact COVID-19 lives for just 4 hrs on copper Vs on steel or plastic.
The Big Q: What does that mean?
The Big A: Copper is antimicrobial, meaning it can kill bacteria and viruses, sometimes within mins.
There have been multiple studies showing its effectiveness against germs.
The biggest studies in the US and UK have shown that surfaces either made of copper or coated in copper resist germ build up.
They have been proven to fight the spread of common infections like norovirus, MRSA, a staph bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics, virulent strains of E. coli that cause foodborne illness, and coronaviruses—possibly including the novel strain currently causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
If copper were more frequently used in hospitals, where 1 in 31 people get HAIs (healthcare acquired infections) or in high-traffic areas like public transport it could play an invaluable role in public health, says Michael Schmidt, a Professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, who’s most recent studies on copper and health have been widely reported
On copper surfaces, bacteria and viruses die.
When a microbe lands on a copper surface, the copper releases electrically charged particles called ions that blast through the outer membranes and destroy the whole cell, including the DNA or RNA inside. Because their DNA and RNA are destroyed, it also means a bacteria or virus cannot mutate and become resistant to the copper, or pass on genes like for antibiotic resistance to other microbes.
Professor Schmidt said that using copper along with standard hygiene protocols has been shown to reduce bacteria in healthcare settings by 90%.
A number of articles have recently asked why copper surfaces are not being used more broadly and especially in healthcare settings. It seems a complicated question that maybe resolves around its upfront cost compared to plastic.
“There might also be a perception that copper is too expensive,” Professor Schmidt said. “despite the fact that the numbers indicate it would ultimately save money.”
“Even when factoring in how much the copper cost initially, you would make that money back in savings within 2 months,” Professor Schmidt said. And considering that the copper never loses its microbial killing abilities—”hospitals would quickly be saving money and lives.”
Copper’s effectiveness in helping to stop the spread of Covid-19 still remains to be seen or studied, but there is already lots of evidence that shows it has a fighting chance.
For more details on antimicrobial copper in the US, click here
Have a healthy day, stay home!