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College seniors create germ-resistant copper phone case after recovering from COVID-19

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Posted at 6:28 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 09:17:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A group of Vanderbilt University seniors is making copper phone cases that kill harmful germs.

Under quarantine, Isaac Lichter, Andrew Medland and Nick O'Brien founded their company Aeris.

"Copper is very effective at continuously killing germs, a whole variety of microbes including the novel coronavirus," said engineering science student Isaac Lichter.

Andrew Medland is graduating with a degree in medicine health and society.

"All of my friends are still inside doing normal college things," Medland said. "While it's upsetting we're missing out on our graduation and other things like that if we can make this product applicable and really help people it will be worth it no question."

The copper case has a copper alloy surface, which the entrepreneurs found in their research is proven to provide long-lasting antibacterial activity and inhibit the buildup of disease-causing bacteria.

"We thought since we use our phones before, during and after everything we do that [it] would be a great place to put a transmission barrier," Lichter said.

The trio is marketing their product on Indiegogo. They built prototypes of the case in a garage, but plan to partner with a manufacturer in the near future.

"We found the evidence and made the product rather than the other way around, which I feel like is what a lot of people do," Lichter said.

Lichter and Medland were diagnosed with COVID-19 in March and have recovered.

"At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, they took unbelievably good care of us," Medland said.

For every case sold, Aeris will donate one case to a healthcare worker.

"All these people across America and around the world are sacrificing a lot more than us to fight this and we just though we want to help them out if we do this," Lichter said.

The copper case retails at $29. The phone case has been tested and does not affect your battery.

A disclaimer from Aeris:

We are not making any specific claims that the case will diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent coronavirus, COVID-19, or any other illness. We are sharing existing government-backed research and academic studies about the nature of copper. This case is in no way intended to substitute for precautions or other guidelines suggested by the CDC, such as social distancing and hand washing — all of those precautions should still be observed.

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.