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The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the Sars-Cov-2 virus, has affected all parts of the world. Alongside COVID-19, we face a continual challenge from other serious transmittable diseases, including influenza, hospital superbugs such as MRSA and Candida albicans, and stomach infections. At particular risk are people in hospitals or residential care that are more likely to become seriously ill if they are infected.
Ideally, an antimicrobial coating could be applied to a surface during manufacture or construction, and last for years. The option to apply the coating easily to existing surfaces is also essential. Applying antimicrobial compounds in a coating allows a more uniform antimicrobial activity across the surface.
Some antimicrobial coatings are already available, but they are not yet widely used. In general, existing coatings use active compounds such as silver and quaternary ammonium compounds, that work by killing or inactivating bacteria, fungi, and viruses. However, there are concerns about the safety of these agents. Also, if they are overused, antimicrobial resistance could develop so that they are no longer effective, in the same way that resistance evolves over time against antibiotics used in medicine.
As with COVID-19, dangerous new pathogens could evolve and spread at any time in the future. We need antimicrobial coatings that can resist new pathogens, as well as the ones we know about.
We need new solutions for antimicrobial coatings that can address all these concerns.