By Alyssa Capel

From ancient times when copper vessels were used to purify water to the nineteenth century when doctors realized the importance of sanitizing their hands, we’ve been looking for ways to keep ourselves safe from diseases—even ones we don’t yet understand. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a growing market for antiviral products and everything from clothing to bags are being produced with an antiviral coating. As demand for these products heats up, some consumers are wondering if it’s really necessary to buy-in.

Since so much is still unknown about the virus, there’s bound to be confusion and uncertainty. Guidelines from the CDC updated in early July report that virus transmission from surfaces to people has not been documented, yet the guidelines also place importance on proper disinfecting of various surfaces. Considering that just because something hasn’t been documented it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t occurred, keeping things sanitary is still a good idea. That’s where the wave of new antiviral-coated products comes into play.

However, when it comes to investing in antiviral products experts caution that they are still very new. Many have not yet been tested, making it difficult to determine how effective they may be. Rather than creating new products in an attempt to keep viruses at bay, some suggest looking to vetted materials such as copper and even cork to create naturally antiviral surfaces. Making use of materials that are known to kill viruses (copper kills COVID-19 in about four hours) could prove to be more effective than untested products that provide a false sense of security.

When searching for information and building strategies to stay safe and healthy, consumers should base their decisions on the latest science, not the latest trends. Experts at the CDC and World Health Organization maintain that simple strategies like handwashing and following good respiratory hygiene are beneficial in helping to stop the transmission of COVID-19. Whether adopting antiviral accessories will add any benefit remains to be seen.