Respiratory infectious diseases are seen as one of the greatest risks for the current and future pandemics. Droplet and aerosol-based transmission routes of respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 usually occur directly via the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth. The indirect route is via surfaces on which infected persons sneeze and leave behind fluid particles with a high bacterial count that can infect other people. Especially in clinical environments or in nursing, it is of particular importance to interrupt infection paths via surfaces contaminated with aerosols. Particularly affected are storage surfaces and castors of tables for instruments, care dressing material etc.
In order to prevent these infection paths, the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI are collaborating in the VirenWolf project. The Fraunhofer IKTS is initially developing a process for producing inexpensive, large-area and abrasion-resistant virucidal and antibacterial surfaces by means of thermal spraying. The virucidal effect of tungsten carbide has already been demonstrated in preliminary tests at the Fraunhofer IKTS. However, this has not yet been implemented in materials or coatings, as conventional coatings contain cobalt, which is classified as carcinogenic. The project team therefore focuses on developing tungsten carbide coatings with copper-containing solution-resistant binders. Their virucidal effectiveness will then be tested at Fraunhofer IZI. The scientists will examine the most effective materials for potential cytotoxic effects with regard to the compatibility of people handling them.