Indian scientists have developed a new ‘Copper-based Nanoparticle-coated Antiviral Face Mask’. It is self-disinfecting, biodegradable, washable, and highly breathable. The masks have performed well not only against the COVID-19 virus but also against other viral and bacterial infections. 

Medical experts have stated that wearing face masks in public is the most effective way to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which is most easily transmitted through airborne respiratory particles

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The masks are supposed to stop transmission from progressing rapidly. However, the Indian market currently doesn’t have masks exhibiting anti-bacterial or anti-viral properties. Thus, transmission is hard to control, especially in densely populated areas like hospitals, stations, airports, and shopping malls. Currently, there are also more mutations to the coronavirus. Already, India has been witness to the third wave driven by the omicron variant. Now, the sub-variant of omicron is also becoming a global presence. 

In this light, it becomes necessary to have a low-cost antiviral mask. Scientists have come together under the banner of a nano-mission project, sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, to develop this new mask. 

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Scientists at International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) developed copper-based nanoparticles, which was uniformly coated on cotton fabric with an appropriate binder. This showed 99.9% effectiveness against bacteria. 

Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) tested this mask against the coronavirus and reported a 99.9% disinfection there as well. Resil Chemicals, the industrial partner, is producing such masks on a large scale now. 

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Presently, masks only filter the viruses but don’t kill them. Hence, if the masks are not properly worn and then disposed of, the transmission can still take place. This situation can be avoided with the self-disinfecting masks, that are now in the works.

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A pressing problem in the pandemic has been the disposal of masks. There are several single-use, non-biodegradable masks which are effective against COVID-19. However, it has led to global concern as the waste keeps piling. Made of cotton fabric, these masks are biodegradable.