Pune startup fights Covid-19 with virucidal N95 masks that inactivate coronavirus

The masks by Thincr Technologies have been approved by the Department of Science and Technology. Around 10,000 such masks have been distributed to government hospitals and institutions.

Pune based startup Thincr Technologies has developed a special kind of N95 mask coated with anti-viral agents known as virucides which have been tested and shown to inactivate the coronavirus. Over the last two months, 10,000 such masks have been distributed to government hospitals and institutions.

“The masks have an additional layer of woven cloth coated with a virucidal formulation that acts on the envelope of the virus. These chemicals break the envelope of the virus and eliminate its cell entry capacity. As the infectious capacity of the coronavirus reduces, so does the spread of infection,” says Shitalkumar Zambad, founder-director of Zambad.

The project has been approved by the Technology Development Board, Department of Science and Technology of India government. The virucidal formulation was developed at Merck Life Sciences, Nerul Mumbai, and the company worked with DY Patil College of Pharmaceutical and Sciences and Research on analytical support.

“Soon after the pandemic started in February 2020, it became clear that masks were the only assured means of staying safe from the virus. With our background in technology and pharmaceuticals, we began to think about how to make the mask more effective,” says Zambad.

A bootstrapped enterprise that was started in 2016, Thincr works with the motto of “Think, Innovate, Create” in which they incorporate different technologies to solve present problems. While the virucidal N95 masks are for single-use only, the company has also developed a 3D filter mask which has a dedicated filter that has been developed using 3D printing technology. “This is a cost-effective filter and ensures that a mask can be used for more than a year,” says Zambad, who was using this mask before switching to the virucidal N95 mask.

Thincr Technologies faces financial issues due to the economic slowdown. “We foresee great opportunities for 3D printing principle-based pharmaceuticals. We want to develop 3D printed novel formulations and better 3D printed machines. But, we have been struggling due to the pandemic and we hope the masks will help control the disease so that we can all get back to work,” says Zambad.

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