Will OtterBox antimicrobial screen protectors work against COVID-19?

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado-based electronics accessory company OtterBox has finally released its new Amplify screen protector. It is designed to kill 99.9% of bacteria found on phone surfaces.

Given the likelihood of the coronavirus surviving on the surfaces of smartphones, the idea of a screen protector with antimicrobial properties sounds like a blessing. 

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OtterBox introduced antimicrobial screen protectors before COVID-19

Interestingly, even before the spread of the coronavirus, there is already a growing trend of screen protectors and smartphone cases that add so-called “antimicrobial coating.” 

OtterBox had first unveiled its antimicrobial screen protector back in January, flaunting it as the first EPA-registered glass protector on the market. The OtterBox Amplify Glass protector is available in the market for $50. 

However, the technology that made such innovation possible cannot be considered new. 

The “anti” in antimicrobial

But how exactly is the Amplify screen protector antimicrobial?

The answer to that lies in silver. Silver has long been known for its antimicrobial properties and is widely used in a number of applications thanks to its toxicity to microbes. 

The Amplify screen protector is made of Corning glass that is infused with silver-ion. It promises to kill 99.9% of bacteria. With the onslaught of COVID-19 that has, in every sense of the word, stopped the world, having such a protective accessory on one’s phone sounds quite assuring. 

However, its effect in fighting against the COVID-19 is basically non-existent according to experts.

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Not a coronavirus killer, disclaimer says

OtterBox, however, is not marketing it as a weapon against the coronavirus. In fact, the company is making it clear that “the Amplify Glass will not protect users or give any implied health benefit.”

In short, the company doesn’t want lawsuits filed against them if their customers do happen to contract the virus. 

It’s also important to note that COVID-19 is a virus, as the term suggests, and thus any antimicrobial or antibacterial agent will not work against it.

Antimicrobial doesn’t mean antiviral

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and because of this fact, an antimicrobial glass protector may not do much to fight against it.

Chris Micklem of the University of Cambridge wants everyone to know these differences. The researcher says in an interview with Pocket-lint:

While there are materials that have been shown to decrease the longevity of certain virus particles in their surface, it is not yet clear whether commonly advertised antimicrobial coating technologies, as sold in their current form, will have this antiviral effect.”

According to the experts, the best way to combat COVID-19 is by observing proper hygiene such as handwashing, disinfecting, and social distancing. 

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