Researchers Find Copper More Effective in Killing COVID Viruses

New research from Ruhr-University Bochum has revealed that copper has the ability to kill covid viruses much more effectively than silver. Researchers have found a way to make these two metals release more ions than they would have due to corrosion, a process that makes them more deadly to bacteria. The researchers published their findings in the “Scientific Reports” journal.

This procedure, which is referred to as a “sputtering system,” allows researchers to apply an extremely thin layer of metal onto a carrier material using different quantities of the metal layer, which results in a variety of surface textures. Applying precious metals such as platinum onto silver initiates an even faster corrosion process and releases a greater amount of antibacterial ions.

According to a Alfred Ludwig, a researcher involved in the study, a base metal will “sacrifice” itself when a more noble metal is introduced, due to a theory called the principle of the sacrificial anode. Sacrificial anode systems have tended to be quite effective at fighting off bacteria in the past. Nanopatches made of platinum and silver have been especially effective against bacteria. The researchers wanted to see if such systems could also be as effective at fighting off viruses.

As such, Stephanie Pfänder, a virologist, stated that the researchers used silver-based sacrificial anodes as well as various surfaces coated with thin layers of silver and copper to test their hypothesis. When the scientists used thin copper layers against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they found that the viral load had reduced “significantly” after just one hour.

On the other hand, silver surfaces had a minimal effect on viral load after the same interval. This points to a “clear antiviral effect” when using surfaces coated with copper, Pfänder concluded. Silver, on the other hand, had a marginal effect on the COVID virus despite its proven track record as an antibacterial agent.

These findings are similar to what researchers from the University of Southampton discovered earlier this year: copper surfaces have the ability to inactivate COVID viruses. In fact, the United Kingdom researchers found that copper surfaces are so effective against viruses that they could render SARS-CoV-2 useless after just a minute of exposure.

Previous studies had shown the same potential ability but hadn’t been able to inactive the COVID virus as quickly. Copper is able to inhibit viral growth by destroying their replication and propagation abilities and making it impossible for the virus to reproduce. This ability also makes copper effective against respiratory viruses such as influenza, fungi and even the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after a minimal interval of exposure.

These additional ways to use copper mean that the market for the commodity is likely to keep growing and shareholders of companies such as Southern Copper Corporation (NYSE: SCCO) may look forward to the benefits of owning copper stocks.

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