RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Products made by Cupron are already in hospitals and medical practices, but the company’s latest innovation could be transformational when it comes to protecting providers and limiting the spread of coronavirus.
The company had already developed bed linens, towels and hospital gowns infused with oxidized copper. The metal fights pathogens including viruses.
With the recent spread of coronavirus, Cupron has developed a reusable medical mask made of the same material.
Orders are already coming in from overseas hospitals and clinics where the virus first began spreading.
“(They realize) their caregivers have got to be their first level of attention,” said CEO Chris Andrews. “If the caregivers aren’t in the hospital, there’s no reason for having a hospital.”
Sentara Healthcare was part of the original trials that proved the effectiveness of the Cupron textiles, as well as countertops made by Norfolk-based EOS Surfaces. Now the company has incorporated the same technology into the reusable masks.
Vikram Kanmukhla, vice president of innovation and quality, says the oxidized copper works quickly.
“In 2016, there was a study done where they were able to demonstrate that within 10 minutes to one hour, the copper can neutralize human coronavirus. It’s as powerful as hydrogen peroxide or bleach,” Kanmukhla said.
The reusable masks are more expensive than typical masks, but Andrews says the cost can be offset within about two months.
“The masks that we’ve deployed have self-sanitizing surfaces — the entire mask is active, so it’s killing the pathogens,” he said.
For now the masks are made in Pakistan, but the company is looking into possible U.S. manufacturing. Andrews foresees more Americans wearing masks when they’re sick, like people in other countries already do.
“There won’t be any stigma associated when one is ill with wearing something, in order to be sensitive to their surroundings,” he said.
The company says the new reusable mask won’t lose its protective properties, no matter how many times you use it or wash it. Andrews says that simplicity is important for medical providers to adopt a new product.
“They don’t want to have to do anything extra,” he said. “They’re busy enough already.”
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