A team of researchers at Egerton University say the scientific fact that copper surfaces can destroy viruses instantly on contact, could be the solution to stopping the deadly coronavirus infections.
“It is a known scientific fact that when copper comes into contact with a virus, it interferes with the microbes, making the virus inactive and destroying it immediately,” says an infectious diseases specialist and researcher Clarence Maikuri Mang’era.
Explaining the team’s confidence in a breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus and possibly other viral and bacterial diseases, Mang’era said when a virus lands on a copper surface, it is flooded with copper ions which quickly penetrate the viral structure and interferes with the viral bimolecular, causing rapid inactivation of the virus and destroying it.
He said the instant inactivation and irreversible destruction of the virus on contact with copper, as compared to the duration the virus is active on other surfaces like wood, clothes, plastics and others, could be the key to cutting down on the infections drastically.
Mang’era was speaking to KNA Thursday, on behalf of the team of researchers he is collaborating with.
The team, which hopes to be able to conclude the research soon, proposes that when the facts are concretized, surfaces like doorknobs at public places including hospitals, offices, public toilets, public vehicle seat handles, stair rails and supermarket trolleys among others be covered with copper and a huge percentage of the virus will be eliminated.
The proposal is founded on the grounds that hands are the most active carriers of the virus, he said, adding the government could consider enacting a requirement to this end in future plans.
The researchers are however urgently appealing for funding from the government, through the Ministry of Health to conclude the research and also find ways on how their proposal can be effectively implemented across the country at reasonable cost.
He stressed that there was an urgent need for proper and sustained funding of biomedical scientists and other fields such as infectious diseases and biochemistry in order to hasten the best control of the coronavirus in the country.
“As at now, we do not have concrete fine details on this fact. We need to do more research but since the government stopped funding research at universities, it has been very hard on us,” explained Mang’era.
According to the scientists, after the government stopped funding them, researchers resorted to looking for funding through other corporate avenues but these are neither guaranteed nor are they easy to come by and besides, they are not timely.
“Scientists apply for funds from different sources including related organizations and Foundations. Sometimes they are funded, sometimes they are not. Even those that are funded may delay or are funded in phases therefore cannot be depended upon at a time of a crises like the coronavirus that we are currently facing,” the researcher clarified.
He observed that getting a solution for coronavirus is very urgent and waiting for funding from donors may take too long for the purpose.
“It is for this reason we urgently appeal to the government to partner with us during this critical time of looking for a solution for the coronavirus pandemic by funding us in this research,” he explained.
Mang’era said as much as medics at hospitals were of paramount importance in treatment of coronavirus and other viral and bacterial diseases, so are researchers in finding solutions that can support the medics either in treating diseases or stopping spread altogether, now and in future.
Besides the immediate solution, the researcher said, the government will also be able to make targeted decisions about this and other diseases in future using the findings of the research.
Other members collaborating with Mang’era include Dr. David Omondi, a specialist in human viruses, Dr. Bartholomew Ondigo, a specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Meshack Obonyo a Biochemist who specializes in toxins and poison and Dr. Vincent Adung’a an expert in molecular parasitology with interest in infectious diseases.
By Veronica Bosibori