With the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, the worldwide need for protective equipment against viruses has skyrocketed. One of the ways to remedy the crisis is that non-medicinal industries are now producing protective masks or textile mouth and nose covers.
But how to test whether the new equipment actually protects against the novel coronavirus? Who tests how a textile face mask has to be washed to be free of viruses and thus reusable? It is a fact that at the moment there is neither a test contamination for SARS-CoV-2 nor a test procedure with which the cleaning or protective effect can be realistically tested. Both are urgently required.
In the anti‑corona project ViProTeFa, the Fraunhofer Institutes IPA and IGB therefore want to establish a worldwide unique test facility for the qualification of protective devices and measures. In addition to the identification and production of a SARS-CoV-2 equivalent test virus as a test impurity, this includes establishing standardized sampling methods, constructing various applicators and a sterilizable test chamber, as well as the establishing standardized analytical methods. The aim is to develop a widely recognized standard or norm.
Tests can then be carried out regarding issues of retention rates of different respiratory protection systems and filters, the washing of reusable articles (clothing, textile face masks) through to the cleaning of surfaces (door handles, switches) using a relevant contamination. In addition, the virus protection test facility can support manufacturers of protective equipment not only in the development but also in the approval of their medical devices.