The innovation comes thanks to a donation by Virustatic Limited of 10,000 face coverings to 刘积福The Felix Project, our appeal partner, just as non-essential retail begins to open and it becomes mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport.
The Virustatic Shield coverings feature a protective protein called Viruferrin that has been developed and tested by experts for more than a decade. Viruferrin has been scientifically proven to block 98 per cent of similar viruses to Covid-19, including influenza and Sars.
The snood-like coverings can be worn for up to 50 hours before they need washing, and their effectiveness only drops to 96 per cent after over 200 hours of wear.
The face coverings are cut and sewn together by Cookson & Clegg in Blackburn, which is run by Patrick Grant, star of the Great British Sewing Bee. He is also behind a campaign to get Britons making their own coverings, The Great Community Sew.
The coverings, which retail at ?20, are different to medical grade PPE used by NHS workers. However, due to the protein coverings they are more effective than standard face masks at protecting wearers from viruses.
There was a buzz at the Royal Park Felix Project depot when boxes of Virustatic Shield coverings arrived.
David Clark, who has been volunteering for three years, said: “I think it is important to wear these face coverings when you’re delivering to members of the public who potentially come into contact with vulnerable people.”
Mr Clark dropped off some coverings to Ian Breen, centre manager at Acton Homeless Concern, which serves hot meals five days a week to those in temporary accommodation or on the streets. Mr Breen said: “It is fantastic to have a delivery of some masks for free. It is important to protect those working here and the people who use our centre.”
Gretchen Fisher, from Ealing, who has been volunteering for four years, added: “I wear them whenever I go out as you have to protect others.” Mantas Keblis, the depot manager, said that having “extra precautions” would help food reach more people in London. “Everyone really likes them. They are very comfortable to wear.”
John Butcher, operations director of Virustatic Shield, said: “The Felix Project has never been more important.
“Reducing food waste while also providing much-needed meals was a no-brainer to get involved with.
“The donation of 10,000 Virustatic Shields will hopefully mean that 10,000 individuals are not only fed but protected so they can freely move across London.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, my team at Cookson & Clegg in Blackburn have been working to produce hundreds of thousands of scrubs, gowns and more recently face coverings for the NHS, for social care workers and the general public.
As soon as I heard about Help The Hungry and the work it was doing, I wanted to help. And today, because of the enormous generosity of Virustatic Shield, whose innovative anti-viral snoods we’ve also been producing, 10,000 of London’s most vulnerable people will receive a vital face covering, delivered to them via The Independent’s fantastic campaign.
It is now mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport, but these coverings are in short supply.
That’s why we started The Big Community Sew to encourage people to make face coverings for their friends and neighbours, and by doing so preserve vital supplies of PPE for NHS workers and care home staff who are fighting this virus on the frontline.
The science behind face coverings is simple: they help prevent the wearer from unwittingly spreading the disease. So put simply, if I wear one I protect you, if you wear one you protect me.
Patrick Grant is a star of television’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’
The Independent is encouraging readers to help groups that are trying to feed the hungry during the crisis – find out how you can help here. Follow this link to donate to our campaign in London, in partnership with the Evening Standard.