Copper Kills Viruses Almost on Contact

I’m totally ready for my copper room and bed now, thank you.

Valerie Michaels
5 min readApr 23, 2020
Photo by Ilze Lucero on Unsplash

“We’ve seen viruses just blow apart,” says Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton in the UK. Keevil seems to be the only person giving interviews about the anti-viral properties of copper; in all my online research his name keeps popping up again and again. As far as I can tell, he’s been shouting this at the world since about 2015. He even landed an opinion piece in Newsweek that same year that was just a reprint of an article he published on The Conversation. Not only has he tested every dangerous superbug on the planet like E. coli, and MRSA, he got his lab hands on a previous coronavirus, coronavirus 229E, before we even started dealing with COVID-19, and demonstrated copper’s disastrous effect on that bug as well. The description of what happens when copper comes into contact with these invaders under his microscope sounds more like what is happening in the nuclear fission lab than in any viral studies I’m reading about. According to Keevil’s article, ‘copper ions (electrically charged particles) prevent cell respiration, punch holes in the bacterial cell membrane or disrupt the viral coat, and destroy the DNA and RNA inside within minutes of coming into contact with them.’ In fact, he has created a lab system to allow him to watch and record a pathogen being destroyed by copper the moment it hits the surface. Cool!

Photo by Brandon Nickerson on Unsplash

Finally, someone getting after this virus and kicking it in the teeth, right? Actually, copper has been en vogue way before our friend Keevil started his virus butt-kicking experiments out in the UK. Egyptians were shaving some particles off their swords and rubbing them in wounds to stop them from getting infected. Indian people have been using copper cups to decontaminate water for centuries. French wineries even applied copper sulphate to vines to prevent fungal attack and copper workers in Paris were protected from several cholera epidemics. Grand Central Station in NYC, one of the hardest hit areas of the US, recently tested their 100 year old guardrails and found that they still had just as powerful an effect killing these superbugs and germs as they did they day they installed them.

Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash

So what’s stopping us, and hospitals, from using copper on every surface? Is it aesthetic or is it cost-prohibitive? Well, no. If you think about the fact that pennies are made from it, it can’t be that expensive, can it? I did a quick Pinterest look and it seems you can get sinks, doorknobs, kitchen counters and all sorts of high-traffic areas in copper for just as good a price as stainless steel and I personally like the look of it. Not a fan of the color or the eventual green patina like our dear Mrs Liberty ? Our buddy Keevil tells us “We’ve shown copper-nickel is just as good as brass at killing bacteria and viruses,” he says. And copper nickel looks exactly like stainless steel. In fact, the copper industry has registered over 400 copper alloys with the EPA to date that all bring copper’s amazing qualities to everyday items.

A recent study of hospitals that installed copper on surfaces showed that the amount of time it took to close down areas during installation was made up in the savings from less viral-related illness in hospital patients in only two months. Our friend Keevil writes that ‘studies worldwide have shown that, with routine cleaning, when copper alloy is used on regularly touched surfaces in busy wards and intensive care units, there is up to a 90 percent reduction in the numbers of live bacteria on their surfaces. This includes bed rails, chair arms, call buttons, over-bed tables, IV poles, taps and door handles. Studies in three hospital intensive care units in the U.S. also showed a remarkable 58 percent reduction in infection rates.’

Copper-infused face mask from (they have nothing to do with this post)

Did you know you can buy ‘copper-infused’ masks and gloves? We may not be Hippocrates treating rashes in Greece or the ancient Aztecs using copper to stop skin infections and treat common ailments but if you’re nostalgic for the times before Covid-19, maybe go a bit further back and brush up on your Ayervedic medicine practices. With zero information that’s reliable coming from our government or news sources, maybe I just find this type of grounded-in-earth type of protection more comforting and cathartic. Earth hasn’t turned against us she was here the whole time! When I see someone on the street in a regular medical mask, I wonder how on earth did they score one of those when my Amazon order from 2 months ago is still pending and hospital workers are dying without them? Anyone? Somehow, a reusable copper mask in a pack of 2 for 20 bucks just came back online today from the company featured in the photo caption above and I’m able to order some. I only ordered 2 packs because my days of fearpiling are over and I want anyone who is as excited as I am about copper to get their hands on some. Knowing that I found this information, and the science to back it up, all pre-dating the Great Global Pandemic has also added to my sense of safety and security. Somehow I trust this knowledge more than my favorite denim company or 5th avenue handbag store converting to atttractive and stylish mask production. (although I’m sure they are about to become the accesorry dujour — I’ll think about it when Chanel makes one…) I definitely trust it more than a woman making them from fabrics stamped with tiny penises so she can tell someone they are too close if they notice! A small win hidden in the great superhighway of well-intended opinions and blatent misinformation and fear-mongering. Even though I am by no means a scientist and nothing in this post should be considered coming from my state-of-the-art, work-at-home lab, passing it along seems the right thing to do. Oh, and I reached out to copper superstar Bill Keevil, I’ll let you know if I hear back.



Valerie Michaels

Media entrepreneur and documentary film producer. I wrote a lot about the past and random stuff I find interesting. Instagram: @mizzzmichaels