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The COVID-19 pandemic has done tremendous damage around the world—and here in the U.S., it’s not yet under control. In fact, the highest one-day tally of new infections (40,000) in the U.S. was recorded just last Thursday (June 25).
In the travel industry, which has suffered greatly, many businesses (like HomeAway) have been lost, and those that have survived so far are having to adjust to accommodate travel in a post-COVID-19 world. Travelers now and likely into the immediate future are going to have new and real concerns about hygiene. When booking a hotel, for example, you wouldn’t be alone if you wanted to know about the hotel’s cleaning processes and regularity, check-in processes (contactless or not), and more.
One innovation that could be a huge help for the new-look travel industry, and in particular the hospitality industry, came as a surprise to me when I received an email about it last week: an antiviral mattress, which pending government approval will be the first of its kind. Developed by Serta Simmons Bedding, one of the largest bedding manufacturers in North America, in partnership with textile innovation firm HeiQ, the mattress uses a technology previously approved for use in N95 masks to “bind and deactivate viruses and resist bacteria attack.” The tech is called HeiQ Viroblock™, and independent testing has shown that it is 99.99% effective against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (aka SARS-CoV-2). Reportedly, major hospitality companies have shown strong interest, and “several of the top five global hotel companies have made early commitments, pending appropriate government approvals.”
For now, representatives say they can’t currently identify the committed hotel companies (we’ll be keeping an eye on that). The approvals being waited on, however, are from the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Administration). In addition, reps have said that the mattress will be available for consumers as soon as this fall (again, pending approval). If approved, SSB plans to utilize HeiQ Viroblock™ at no extra charge across much of its industry-leading portfolio of brands, which includes Serta, Beautyrest and Tuft & Needle.
How does an antiviral mattress work?
Bacteria and especially viruses are so small that the human eye can’t see them (the COVID-19 coronavirus measures just 90 nanometers). The trademarked HeiQ Viroblock™ technology (developed in 2014 by a Swiss virologist for use in face masks) is designed to work on that tiny scale kind of like a magnet. It attracts the tiny virus particles, binds them and breaks them down until the virus is deactivated. The technology is applied to the mattress’s fabric during a “textile finish application process” so that the whole mattress is protected.
In more scientific terms, HeiQ says it uses “a unique combination of [its] registered silver technology for antiviral and antibacterial effect and [its] vesicle technology as a booster. The silver technology attracts the oppositely charged viruses and binds permanently to their sulfur groups. Subsequently, the fatty spherical vesicle technology (Liposomes) helps to deplete the viral membrane of its cholesterol content in minutes. Therefore, the silver can destroy the virus rapidly.”
The softness and feel of the mattress are not affected by the tech, nor is the smell (except for maybe in a positive way as the tech provides odor control). Additionally, the finished mattress is hypoallergenic, non-sensitizing, non-irritant, and skin patch tested. So in theory, pending approval, a hotel employing the HeiQ Viroblock™ antiviral mattress could offer guests an extra layer of protection from COVID-19 (and other illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria) without having to sacrifice comfort.
What do you think? Weigh in!
It’s not possible to test the comfort yet, and that’s a big part of any mattress experience. But would an antiviral mattress that’s proven to work make you more likely to stay in a hotel when you start traveling again? What about at home? Would you consider buying an antiviral mattress for your own home? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.