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The need for Antiviral Clothes

We live in a time when the Covid-19 outbreak has caused a global pandemic resulting in not only the loss of lives but has also brought the global economy to a staggering halt. The precautionary steps to slow down the spread of the virus is by following stringent social distancing norms, wearing a face mask to prevent the pathogens from entering the respiratory system, and maintaining a sense of hygiene at all times. With the growing uncertainty surrounding the prolonged effects of the COVID-19 virus, it is necessary that one is equipped with the right protective gear to combat the invisible influenza-type viruses present in the environment.

When we step out of our comfort zone into the hustling world, our clothing items are the first line of defence against the invisible flu-viruses that are present in our surrounding.

Viruses are transmitted through droplets from an infected individual that land on surfaces, and depending on the environmental conditions, can remain active outside the body for longer periods of time. The purpose of anti-viral clothing is to prevent the initial stage of infection by killing the pathogens transmitted from a carrier.

Anti-microbial fabric has been around for quite a while and is mainly used in the healthcare sector for beddings, surgical gloves and surgical gowns, for military

uniforms, and the sports apparel industry. These types of fabrics are biotechnologically engineered to fight against microbes by either reducing the rate of cross-infection or protecting the fabric from wear-and-tear of microbial activity and maintaining the longevity of the fabric. Over the past couple of years, because of the increased cases related to respiratory problems, researchers have been working on developing antiviral agents such as coatings and fabrics that specifically target contagious pathogens such as rotavirus, influenza A virus, and respiratory syncytial virus, which will help in eradicating these viruses in the long-run.

Scientific research has established that Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) are known for their anti-bacterial and antiviral properties, however, researchers are still working on finding an efficient and environmental-friendly method of harnessing the full potential of this technology. Antiviral fabric constitutes of nanoparticles and nanostructures which are woven either directly into the fibre of the fabric or added onto the finished product through various methods such as pad-dry-curing, electrospinning, spin-coating, and spray-coating techniques.

Viruses enter the human body by attaching themselves to the human cell and replicating their DNA strains thereby compromising the target cell internally, and so because the skin is in direct contact with clothes which is often exposed to these pathogens, it is essential that fabrics with antiviral properties are incorporated in our everyday lives. Healthcare providers and essential workers, work in environmental conditions that make them susceptible to the dangers of contracting the virus. Antiviral clothing greatly reduces the risk of infection as they combat the virus by eradicating it on the substrate of the clothing fabric.

The demand for making the anti-viral fabric more accessible for commercial use is on the rise as COVID-19 continues to infect people across the globe with at least 4.9 million confirmed cases with 3,23,000 deaths so far. Creating a vaccine is still underway and hence the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention are looking towards

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) with antiviral properties as a means of controlling the spread of the virus. A normal face mask or garments made out of natural textile fabric falls short of protecting the individual from contracting the pathogen as the rate of infection from clothes to the individual is still very high. Even with the availability of antiviral products in the market such as soaps, medication, sanitizers, sprays, coatings and cleaners, it is a dire necessity to introduce antiviral fabric with the functionality of targeting pathogens which will prevent the spread of an infection on a larger scale.

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