The new technology to combat Covid-19 was created as part of a project led by the BLC3 Technology and Innovation Campus, in Oliveira do Hospital, in partnership with the University of Minho and the Faculties of Pharmacy of the universities of Lisbon and Coimbra, said the coordinator of the investigation, João Nunes.
“In one minute, of the 16,982 SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, in a sample, only five particles were not inactivated, which gave a result of 99.97 percent. After five and 15 minute intervals, total inactivity was obtained, without any variation in the behaviour of the virus”, João Nunes told Lusa news agency.
The test was carried out on 27 different samples, with “all results being scientifically validated”, added the researcher and president of the BLC3 association.
When studying the behaviour of the virus, the researchers concluded that “one of the weakest points [of the virus], which has not managed to evolve over thousands of years, has been resistance to solar radiation”, said João Nunes.
The technology which has now been developed, called AT MicroProtect, is based on a “new concept of ‘inverse physics’, which integrates a system of emission of wavelengths, in a controlled and oriented way, much more efficient than solar radiation (new principles of fluid mechanics applied to the flow and propagation of the virus in airborne terms), with the development of a mathematical and physical algorithm on the behaviour of the virus”, he explained.
The equipment does not use chemicals and just needs electricity to work.
“One of the most dangerous and least controllable forms” of the virus, that is the source of the Covid-19 pandemic, is transmitted between people by air.
The technology must, therefore, said João Nunes, be applied as a priority to the protection of professionals in the health sector, in the means of air and land transport and inside buildings occupied by a high number of people, such as airports and shopping centres or nursing homes.
But “it is also possible to apply this to hotels and restaurants and other places where there is a problem of indoor air quality”, the scientist also points out.
The World Health Organisation recently warned of the dangers of airborne transmission of the new coronavirus, but this, he stresses, is already part of the concern of the consortium led by BLC3 “since the beginning of the pandemic” - the AT MicroProtect project was first started on 14 March.
In three weeks, knowledge and technology were developed, after which it took some time to access isolated and certified strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to scientifically validate the whole process, said João Nunes.
For this, the support of the North American laboratory, which also provides virus samples for the development of vaccines worldwide, was very important.
The consortium had access to an isolated strain from Hong Kong (at the beginning of the pandemic), another from the USA (final phase) and a third from Italy (intermediate phase).
“The virus alone has no intelligence but us humans have intelligence and knowledge and these are the best weapons we can use against it”, said João Nunes, arguing that “we cannot wait for a response from vaccines and medications in the face of airborne viruses.”
“We have to learn to be prepared in another way, we have to gain the capacity to act quickly”, especially since “it is still not certain when there will be a vaccine”, emphasises the researcher, highlighting this work as an example in the health sector in a multidisciplinary format.
“Today, we have very in-depth scientific knowledge about the behaviour of this virus”, which will allow, said João Nunes, “the development of more technology and knowledge and expand the application to other viruses and bacteria of interest to public health and safety.”