United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based ViroMasks has launched a reusable face mask that it claims is able to eliminate the COVID-19 virus within half an hour of contact.
Owned by HeiQ Group, which is part of the Swiss specialty chemistry company, HeiQ Materials AG, the HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 has reportedly “tested effective 99.99% in 30 minutes” against SARS-CoV-2. Testing took place in collaboration with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne.
“HeiQ Viroblock is designed to inhibit the growth and persistence of bacteria and enveloped viruses on textile surfaces,” HeiQ’s company website describes. “It’s a unique combination of our registered silver technology for antiviral and antibacterial effect and our vesicle technology as a booster.”
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Launched by Dubai-based entrepreneurs Usman Khalid and Hammad Anwar, ViroMasks claims to be the first company in the UAE and the wider GCC to have developed an environmentally sustainable face mask that has proven effective in protecting against COVID-19. The masks are also manufactured in the country.
“We are pleased to have successfully collaborated with our partners to design and manufacture a mask that affords all-round protection to both the wearer and the general public by neutralising viruses on contact,” said Khalid, who serves as the company’s CEO. “ViroMasks with HeiQ Viroblock technology has been designed with a two-fold purpose, to provide greater protection against virus[es] and bacteria, and to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to the single-use masks currently on the market. We have partnered with leading scientists, experts and industry professionals across the globe to ensure the design of the ViroMasks VN-95 is effective in protecting against COVID-19 and that the manufacturing process is both quality-controlled and ethical.”
Other brands have released reusable face mask products onto the market, notably Fine Hygienic Holding’s “Fine Guard” masks with Livinguard textile technology that can neutralise pathogens, including human coronavirus 229e (HCoV-229E). Whilst testing wasn’t expanded to include SARS-CoV-2, it is believed that the technology would also be effective on that coronavirus, the company’s chief executive told MobiHealthNews last month.
In addition to its potential to tackle the coronavirus, ViroMasks also comprise filtration valves that prevent heat and carbon dioxide build-up. Each mask can be reused for up to one year, maintaining antibacterial effectiveness for up to 40 washes, and antiviral effectiveness for up to 20 washes, the company said.
ON THE RECORD
“HeiQ’s Viroblock is a breakthrough innovation extending a special combination of advanced silver and vesicle technology. It is effective against the human coronavirus 229E and SARS-CoV-2, and lab tests have proven that it reduces 99.9% of the virus that causes COVID-19 in 30 minutes,” said Carlo Centonze, CEO of HeiQ Group. “As a leading textile technology company, we are pleased to partner with ViroMasks to extend our technology to millions of consumers in [the] GCC region and benefit the larger communities across the globe.”
ViroMasks face masks retail for AED 99 (approx. £21 or $27).
Editor's note: Some of the language in this story has been updated for accuracy.