To mask or not to mask has been a debate across the entire year of COVID. There are and will probably be some form of mask requirements worldwide for the foreseeable future. Some polls indicate that millions will continue wearing masks even after they’re vaccinated and herd immunity against COVID is established, which could come as soon as April. So as long as we’re wearing masks, what if there was a mask that included virus-killing technology?
Viruses can go airborne when people who are infected with them breathe out droplets, sneeze or cough. Even talking can send out droplets for others to breathe in. We’re wearing masks to block as much of that transmission from happening as possible. Still, masks aren’t perfect. Droplets can slip through. Exhaling can push droplets out around the edges. And the masks themselves only block droplets carrying viruses, they don’t kill the viruses themselves. People sometimes don’t wear their masks correctly. Additionally, while medical masks are hydrophobic and resist water, homemade and store-bought cloth masks aren’t. They tend to absorb water, meaning the droplets carrying viruses can be absorbed by non-medical-grade cloth masks. The viruses could therefore be living in your cloth mask and still able to infect you or someone else later.
But there’s a different kind of mask altogether. A reusable fabric mask called The Virustatic Shield, or V-Shield, developed in the U.K. over the past decade for pandemic situations such as this. It contains a food-grade glycoprotein called lactoferrin as the key ingredient. Lactoferrin naturally occurs in the body to fight infection. Dr. Jorge Osorio of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin leads the lab that tested the mask on live viruses for its ability to inactivate COVID. He appeared on American Medicine Today’s radio show recently to discuss the V-Shield and how lactoferrin may change the game.
“Lactoferrin…is a protein that in this case is used to coat the fabric…The protein stays there. It’s very stable, the fabric can be washed,” he said. The mask can be washed while remaining effective, unlike single-use masks. He noted that lactoferrin has no effect on humans as it naturally occurs in the body and is used in everyday food products such as baby formula.
Lactoferrin is a protein found in milk, both bovine and human, and is well known to be effective in the body’s ability to fight infections. Its ferrous nature disables viruses by binding with them, rendering them inert and unable to reproduce or infect. The V-Shield mask is made of biodegradable fabric that’s coated with a protein technology called Viruferrin. That’s a patented blend containing lactoferrin. It binds to the fabric and provides a lethal shield against viruses while doing no harm to humans at all. The mask itself is comfortable and provides the wearer protection even over facial hair. That’s important to those of us with our COVID beards. It can be washed up to 10 times and it will remain effective in disabling not only SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but also the H1N1 influenza virus, providing broad protection for wearers and others around them.
“This particular mask is effective not only in protecting you, but also at protecting others because even with someone who might be shedding COVID, but might not know they’re infected because some folks don’t have symptoms, but they can still be transmitting the virus to other people. This mask works really well in avoiding that transmission,” Dr. Osorio said.
He added: “In simple terms, the V-Shield exhibited up to 99% protection from SARS-CoV-2 which is key in stopping people from becoming infected by the disease. This is a meaningful development as we work to mitigate human-to-human transmission of viruses.”
The V-Shield mask could be a game-changer for the general public until we reach herd immunity against COVID-19. Even after that, its protection against the common cold and influenza viruses can mean life or death, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.