Sweet solution: Honey-coated masks eyed as COVID-prevention alternative

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In Sri Lanka, two entrepreneurs are working to launch a biodegradable, antimicrobial alternative to the N95 mask widely used to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dubbed Mel-Cotta, the masks are made from banana stalk fibers and coated with honey and propolis, a resin made by bees to seal hives. They were developed by David Churches and Frank Ryde, a beekeeper who also makes therapeutics from bee products. The masks were shown to trap microscopic particulates around the 0.3 microns range.

“Our Mel-Cotta masks are completely biodegradable made from locally sourced sustainable materials and honey-coated to automatically kill bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses (including Covid 19),” Churches tells Economy Next.  The coating also includes additives such as cinnamon, turmeric, and black cumin.

Not only are the masks a biodegradable alternative to the billions currently in circulation, but they would also be cheaper. “These masks would only cost 50% of the global market price for mask,” Ryde said. He estimates Sri Lanka could produce 10,000 masks a month, but could scale production to several millions.  “It can be done, in just a few months, but will require government intervention and serious investment in new beehives and raw materials,” he said.

Churches and Ryde are currently looking for investors.