Surface spray could kill COVID-19, viruses

Common surface sprays are aimed at cockroaches, flies and mosquitoes, but researchers may have created one that kills the worst bugs of them all: viruses and bacteria.

University of Queensland researchers have developed a spray that can stick to surfaces and kill COVID-19 and bacteria such as E. coli and staphylococcus aureus.

Dr Heather Shewan says adding a hydrolysed gelatine to the solution helps create a thin film allowing the spray to stick on surfaces for at least a day, and potentially longer.

"This durability means it is present over a longer period than a standard cleaner, and has the potential to be used in high-use areas such as in public transport, kitchens, hotels, retail outlets, hospitals and public areas," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

UQ virologist Dr Kirsty Short and microbiologist Dr Deirdre Mikkelsen said the spray has already successfully killed COVID-19 in several tests, including on stainless steel.

"In one test we sprayed glass surfaces with the cleaner and left it dry on the surface, and after 24 hours we added the COVID virus and further testing showed it did not survive," Dr Short said.

"We also conducted other tests that showed even after rinsing surfaces with water, the spray significantly reduced the amount of virus that was able to survive on stainless steel."

The UQ team created the spray with Australian cleaning product manufacturer OzKleen, with the hydrolysed gelatine being provided by Queensland company GELITA Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is assessing it for commercial use, with OzKleen chief executive Mark Quinn optimistic about producing the spray in Queensland and potentially exporting it.

"This is a very exciting initiative and the results show this product can be used in public places across the globe and will help to make the world a safer place," Mr Quinn said in a statement.

"Not only will this product create jobs and grow the state's economy, it will put Queensland on the world map as an innovator and manufacturer of world-class products."

Queensland Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the research was supported with a $90,000 grant from the Advance Queensland Industry Fellowship program.

"The partnership between the UQ research team, Queensland cleaning product manufacturer, OzKleen and Beaudesert company, Gelita Australia is now gaining international attention," he said.

"Once approved, it will be manufactured at the Gold Coast and has the potential to create up to 30 good, secure jobs for Queenslanders."