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Copper the Virus Stopper

Sometimes cutting-edge capabilities are underappreciated. Despite attracting praise thousands of years ago for sterilizing wounds and drinking water, contemporary use of copper belies the material’s effectiveness in stifling the spread of disease-inducing bugs. Bacteria and viruses die on copper surfaces.

Various studies confirm copper’s ability to thwart a long list of microbial health threats such as E. Coli, MRSA, noroviruses and coronaviruses, including the novel strain behind the COVID-19 outbreak. A microbe that lands on copper triggers the release of electrically charged copper ions that destroy the entire uninvited cell, eliminating its ability to develop copper resistance by wiping out its DNA and RNA.

To gather information about the latest viral outbreak, researchers from the National Institutes of Health virology lab in Montana sprayed the COVID-19 coronavirus on seven surfaces common in homes and hospitals to see how long the virus would remain infectious on them.

Steel and plastic were the worst performing surfaces, with infectious germs still present after three days. The best performing surface was copper, where the virus disappeared in just four hours.

Clinical trial results published in 2015 showed that the use of copper alloys, such as brass and bronze, in patient rooms in three hospitals – one in New York and two in South Carolina – showed that the presence of copper could significantly reduce hospital acquired infections (HAIs).

Introducing copper to bedrails, nurse call buttons and other high-touch areas resulted in an 83 percent reduction in microbes and a 58 percent reduction in HIAs.

The bottom line is copper more than pays for itself in health care settings. The current outbreak highlights the potential societal benefits that could emerge were copper to be increasingly incorporated into doorknobs, handrails and other frequent touch points in public spaces. Perhaps the global pandemic prompts decision makers to recalculate copper’s cost-benefit analysis. A little upfront cost can deliver a perpetual benefit to human health.

Source: Friess Associates, a growth-oriented investment management firm, www.friess.com.


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