At a time when the act of even stepping out of one’s house requires a mask and when the threat of the virus and the virus itself persist in the air of hospitals, what if there was a mask that not only filtered out the virus, inactivated virus particles on its surface but was still much more breathable than regular N95 masks? Such a product exists. Using a technology patented by IIT Bombay, the brand Meemansa is manufacturing self-disinfecting, more breathable, N98 face masks under the brand name Duraprot.
Priyanka Bapna had nothing to do with doctors and masks; her main business is garment manufacturing, and she supplies her products to leading retail chains. But when the pandemic struck, she found that she had 200 employees who needed to be engaged. She said: “I made sure they had enough to eat, but that wasn’t enough. They wanted to walk home. I needed to occupy them, so I got them to start making masks with whatever fabric we already had with us for salwar kurtas. We joined the Million Mask challenge and — funded by friends and family — distributed 60,000 masks in hospitals, slums and wherever else they were needed.”
And then, IIT Bombay got in touch with her. Early in the course of the pandemic, a research team had developed and patented a technology called Duraprot, which could be used to coat masks, gloves and hospital gowns, and had a proven antibacterial and antiviral effect.
Bapna and the team never met, but signed a licencing agreement over Zoom. In partnership with her brother’s engineering firm, which quickly put together a clean factory floor in Anand, Gujarat, Bapna now manufactures patented masks.
What makes Duraprot unique?
- Each mask is dipped in a special antimicrobial solution for six hours over three days, which coats the masks. A potential antiviral agent inactivates the viral particle by disrupting the viral envelope and capsid and leaking its nucleic acid into the system. When the virus comes in contact with the coating, its outer layer disintegrates, inactivating the virus and preventing it from latching on.
- Inactivates > 99.99 % of viruses on surface and > 99.99 % SARS-CoV-2 on surface, when tested by RT PCR method. Bacterial Filtration > 99.99 %, inactivates > 99.99 % bacteria on surface, even post washing.
- Since the mask is self-disinfecting, it doesn’t need to be washed, except for dust and dirt. No soap is required. Duraprot is tested for 20 washes, and Duraprot Plus for 10 washes. All the coating signature bands present before washing were present after washing, which means there is no change in the chemical components even after the certified number of washes.
- Duraprot Plus is splash resistant. This means that spit or blood cannot pass through the fabric, which is perfect for surgical staff and for protection from a disease that spreads through airborne particles.
- The Duraprot Plus is certified for N98 standards, which affords more protection than N95 masks.
- Made out of two layers of thin cotton, it is much more breathable. This makes it convenient and comfortable for a person to wear for long periods of time.
- Made of 100% biodegradable fabric. N95 is made out of polymer plastic, which needs to be burnt for disposal.
- All production is done by over 50 people. Women constitute half the workforce.
Durapot has been registered as a medical device with the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO. It is priced at one-tenth the price of its nearest competitor (with similar features), and Bapna is willing to lower the price further in case civic bodies would like to acquire them for their staff.
So far, over 40,000 Duraprot masks and 5,000 Duraprot Plus masks have been sold. Chuckling, Bapna said: “We are killing our own market, because since our masks are reusable, you don’t have to buy that many masks!”