An innovative technology designed by Swiss company HeiQ gives textile fibers the ability to destroy viruses on contact. This recently won the prestigious Swiss Technology Award. The company launched its new technology, known as HeiQ Viroblock (shortened to V-Block), immediately following the March 2020 pandemic lockdown in Switzerland. V-Block destroys an impressive 99.9% of viruses within five minutes of contact, including the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Antimicrobial fabric has existed for at least 2000 years, when ancient Egyptians treated cloth with resins, oils, and plant extracts before mummification to prevent decay. Modern antimicrobial fabrics date back to World War II. A new process developed at that time involved the treatment of material with toxic chemicals. Such treatments helped prevent rotting of military tents, tarps, and truck covers.

In the last 70 years, non-toxic, eco-friendly antimicrobial fabrics have become ubiquitous in industrial, medical, and more recently, everyday textiles. The latter keeps treated socks from smelling and cleaning cloths from gathering mold and mildew. At this point, is there anyone out there who doesn’t appreciate an antimicrobial dishcloth or sponge?

Contemporary antimicrobial treatments use a broad range of chemical compounds that interfere with microbial activity. What sets V-Block apart is the dual approach used by the HeiQ engineers. They’ve combined two high-performing, patent-pending technologies both to prevent viral replication and to destroy the anatomy of the virus.

The HeiQ vesicle technology breaks down the structure of the lipids that surround viruses (including coronaviruses). The company’s silver technology harnesses silver ions’ natural antimicrobial properties, which keep viruses from proliferating. Made with 72% bio-based ingredients and entirely formulated of cosmetic-grade materials, V-Block can give virtually any type of fabric antimicrobial properties.

V-Block doesn’t protect the people wearing it or those around them from getting COVID-19. But it does significantly — and rapidly — impede the virus when it comes in contact with the treated fabric. Already in use in face masks available in Switzerland, V-Block has potential applications for medical supplies ranging from gowns to linens, as well as in manufacturing and a variety of other industries.

It’s no surprise that 2020 has seen a new focus on antimicrobial textiles. That the high-caliber adjudication panel for the Swiss Technology Award selected V-Block indicates that HeiQ has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field.