These Israeli startups develop breakthrough technology to stop outbreak as the world awaits vaccine for the coronavirus
Coronavirus has spread so fast in short amount of time. As scientists and drugmakers race to get a vaccine for the coronavirus approved this year, two Israeli startups are working on new breakthrough technologies to help prevent the outbreak. The two startups are rushing to complete development of antiviral facemasks that could be vital prevention tools in epidemics like Wuhan coronavirus. Because there is currently no vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus, experts agreed that personal protective equipment is a critical to combat and stop the transmission of the virus and avoid a pandemic.
An Israeli startup called Sonovia is creating a washable antiviral fabric that kills bacteria and viruses upon contact. Sonovia uses soundwaves to impregnate the surface of the fabric with metallic nanoparticles like zinc oxide and copper oxide. The particles have antiviral and antibacterial properties that destroy viruses and potentially save lives.
So far, the Sonovia’s textiles have proven effective against some strains of the flu virus and six types of bacteria including E. coli and Staph. The material can also last for up to 100 washes at 167°F or 65 washes at 197°F.
According to the company, the impregnated polyester-cotton fabric has been shown effective against some strains of influenza. While their fabrics have not been tested against the coronavirus, the metallic nanoparticles used in their textiles are “highly antiviral” for viruses similar in structure to the coronavirus. “Once a lab that can do this test is identified, the process could take eight weeks,” says Liat Goldhammer-Steinberg, CTO of Sonovia in Ramat Gan.
Liat Goldhammer-Steinberg said Sonovia has enough fabric to make about 5,000 to 10,000 antiviral face masks but they won’t be commercialized until the startup has been approved for distribution. “We are actually in the process of accelerating our research and development into this particular field because we know that there is an epidemic at the moment and we want to be able to help China distribute this equipment once we’ve got the approval and then we’ll be able to manufacture masks on a large scale,” Dr. Jason Migdal, leader of Business Development at Sonovia said.
The second startup is another Jerusalem-based company called Argaman. The company said it is also months away from releasing its antiviral mask called Bio-Block.
“The pores of the nanofiber pad are so small that bacteria cannot go through it — nor a droplet that contains a live virus –and our EPA-approved 100% CottonX fibers destroy the pathogens that come in contact with it,” founder and CEO Jeff Gabby said.
“The mask not only blocks the virus but kills the viruses going both to the wearer and away from the wearer in case the wearer is infected,” he explains.
Like Sonovia, the CottonX fabric has proven effective against E. coli and Staph and can last up to 100 washes.
Customers can buy the Bio-Block masks in about two months at the company’s office in Jerusalem for $50. Argaman also plans on selling the masks and other products on Amazon.