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Can antimicrobial fashion protect you from the coronavirus?

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

In a pandemic-era world, clothing brands are touting antimicrobial and antiviral technology as the next big thing. But can it actually help keep you safe?

Without sound scientific testing by brands across the board, it is difficult to assess whether antimicrobial treatments can protect wearers from the novel coronavirus, according to Amy Price, a senior research scientist at Stanford Anesthesia Informatics and Media (AIM) Lab who has advised the WHO on its face mask guidelines.

"The challenge is that sometimes claims are made, but they aren't tested on the actual masks or with the actual virus," she said over a video conference call.

Some companies say they have tested their products with SARS-CoV-2, like IFTNA's PROTX2 AV that Under Armour says it uses, and HeiQ's Viroblock, which, according to the company's website, is used by numerous brands to produce reusable face masks, coats and even mattresses.

IFTNA says recent lab testing "shows PROTX2 AV's efficacy against Covid-19," while HeiQ claims that Viroblock, which is added to the fabric during the final stage of the textile manufacturing process, has been "tested effective against Sars-CoV-2. " CNN has not been able to independently verify these claims.

Price, who studied the effectiveness of fabric masks alongside AIM Lab's director, Larry Chu, said there are a number of variables that determine how much protection a product offers.

It will be important to consider whether a treated fabric is able to neutralize the virus, and if so, how long it takes ("the virus can get in within nanoseconds," Price said), as well as the number of washes the antimicrobial treatment can withstand.

Earlier this month, Polygiene, which recently partnered with Diesel and is the maker of ViralOff, said in a press release that the antimicrobial textile treatment technology can successfully kill 99% of SARS-CoV-2 from textile surfaces within two hours.

Giancarlo Beevis, president of IFTNA, said over email: "It will protect the wearer from potential transmission points on anything treated with PROTX2 AV. " HeiQ, on the other hand, does not claim that its product can protect people against pathogens -- a legal disclaimer on its website says the treatment is meant to protect the textile itself, not the wearer.

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