COVID Omicron variant: How to stay safe if you have to travel

Sonovia’s SonoMask proven more than 99% effective against all previous variants. Company expects it to work against Omicron, too. 

 Sonovia's SonoMask  (photo credit: COURTESY)
Sonovia's SonoMask
(photo credit: COURTESY)

The world has started to shut down airports and recommend against unnecessary travel as a new COVID-19 variant that could be more contagious and cause more serious disease has started to circulate.

The COVID-19 Omicron variant has been named a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, raising concern just ahead of winter vacation. If you still plan to travel, the best advice would be to wear a mask.

The SonoMask by Israel’s Sonovia has released multiple reports by leading textile-testing laboratories, including in the European Union, showing that its fabric eliminates COVID-19 particles with over 99.95% effectiveness. This has been true for the original virus strain and, most recently, the Delta variant. 

This article is written in cooperation with Sonovia. Learn more about Sonovia's mask.

(Credit: Courtesy of Sonovia)(Credit: Courtesy of Sonovia)

“COVID-19 variants might have different epidemiological or immunological properties that are the result of point mutations in critical areas of the receptor binding domain. Still, their overall structure and biophysical properties of the virus are almost identical. Hence, the antiviral effect exerted by the Sonovia-treated fabrics is expected to be present in all COVID-19 variants,” said Prof. Amos Adler, director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Tel Aviv University, with whom the company consults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a report last year explaining why people become infected during airplane flights, showing that in-flight transmission is strongly associated with seating proximity, crowding and flight duration. 

“Air travel is contributing to the extent and speed of the pandemic spread through the movement of infected persons,” the CDC said in its report.

A separate study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine looked at three mass transmission flights compared to five with zero transmission despite there being people traveling on the airplanes with COVID-19. The difference, the study found, was strict masking. 

“Strict use of masks appears to be protective,” the authors wrote. 

Airplanes have unique HEPA filtration systems that help reduce the risk of the virus spreading through the air. That means that catching the virus on the plane, as noted by the CDC, is almost entirely from people sitting around you. Wearing masks lowers this risk by bocking particles released by those who are near you from getting into your nose and mouth. 

Get a Sonovia mask.

Sonovia’s fabric is coated with zinc nanoparticles. It’s technology uses sound waves to inject silver and zinc particles into the textile that kill bacteria and viruses. The technology is currently being applied to a wide range of products other than its trademark SonoMask, including seat covers for public transportation and airplane seats, bed sheets and pillowcases for the hospitality sector and clothing.

Last week, Sonovia reported that a global aircraft manufacturing company had reached an agreement with the company for a follow-on order for the purchase of masks with tens of thousands of dollars. 

Sonovia is specially designing the masks to match the company’s brand and logo.

This followed a smaller purchase made in April 2021.

Here's how you can get a Sonovia mask, too.

"Sonovia continues to expand its circle of customers and reach huge companies in various industries and the fact that an aviation giant, which is among our list of customers, has placed a follow-on order, is proof of the quality and effectiveness of the product that we have developed and its ability to resist the COVID virus in particular and virus bacteria in general,” said Sonovia CEO Igal Zeitun. “The choice of the masks that we have developed testifies to the change in the global approach and understanding that masks are not a passing fashion but will be part of our personal equipment for a long time to come. 

“The choice in ordering multiple-use masks that are resistant to bacteria and viruses confirms the many advantages in using the effective technology that we have developed, and which is resistant to all COVID virus variants,” he continued. “We will continue in the development and sales of end products, based on the company's technology to commercial and private customers around the world."

This is not the first large company to purchase such masks, according to Zeitun. He said that some of Sonovia’s other customers include Align Technology, Roche and Bridgewater.

In addition to masks, Sonovia also offers other products using the company's ultrasound technology and is working to create business collaborations with companies in the aviation, vehicles, high fashion, sports fashion and institutional textiles industries.

The company already offers travel seat covers, which it calls the “ultimate compact companion for flights, trains, buses, cinemas, theaters and any other time you are on the move.”

(Credit: Courtesy of Sonovia)(Credit: Courtesy of Sonovia)

Learn more now.

“Airplanes have an infestation of viruses and bacteria,” said Iuri Verba, Sonovia’s vice president of Operations.

He said that this is especially the case in the US, where airplanes can take five to six domestic flights per day and there is simply no time to deep clean seats and tray tables in between them. 

“Deep cleaning happens only about once a month on most airplanes,” Verba said. “People usually think the tray is the dirtiest place, or the seat pocket where you stuff all your little items. But actually, the dirtiest place is the head of the seat - especially the aisle seat.”

That’s because people walk through the aisle of the plane, touching the top of the seat on their way back from the bathroom and after they get a drink or play with their toddler in the aisle. 

A Sonovia seat cover is small enough to carry on and cover your seat for added protection. Right now, these seat covers can be purchased by individual consumers. Over time, as the company works closely with the same airplane manufacturer who bought SonoMasks, Sonovia hopes to be able to build airplane seats covered in its fabric, which would offer a long-term solution.

As the Omicron variant just reminded the world, COVID-19 has not gone away. 

“People won’t fly for the next decade without masks,” stressed Sonovia Co-Founder Shay Hershcovich. “Our masks reduce the risk of flying as much as possible.”

This article was written in cooperation with Sonovia. Learn more and purchase a mask.