Photodynamically-active coatings for extended disinfection of high-touch surfaces to combat COVID-19
While social distancing protocols between people appear to be most critical to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission, the potential for surface-to-person transmission remains a key risk factor associated with community spread of COVID-19. For the broader population, key surfaces of concern include doorknobs/door handles, handrails on stairwells or public transit, and keypads on payment machines. Additional concerns are present in locations like schools and long-term care facilities given the inherent challenges in ensuring children and cognitively/physically-impaired older adults follow proper handwashing protocols to reduce surface transmission risk. While regular disinfection effectively kills SARS-CoV-2, existing disinfection protocols have minimal residual activity and thus require labour-intensive regular re-application. Developing a safe sprayable coating that can maintain effective disinfection of high-touch surfaces over up to one week without interim intervention would thus dramatically reduce the risks of community spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other diseases. This project aims to create such coatings through a partnership between Suncor and Dr. Todd Hoare (McMaster University). Suncor has a decade of experience in formulating sprayable emulsions and, more recently (in collaboration with Hoare), sprayable coatings based on food-grade materials that can effectively kill a broad spectrum of plant-based pathogens upon exposure to sunlight (often achieving complete eradication of pathogens). Herein, we aim to collaboratively re-engineer these agricultural coatings to address key challenges specific to high-touch surfaces, specifically increasing coating adhesion/stability as well as ensuring that all relevant indoor and outdoor light sources can effectively stimulate rapid viral deactivation. Following, we will validate the performance of the coatings in practical applications, with a successful result leading to regulatory filings and, ultimately, manufacturing and commercialization by Suncor (leveraging its existing agricultural infrastructure). We anticipate such coatings will offer a safe and convenient disinfection strategy for reducing the risk of community disease spread.