As the coronavirus spreads, Xenex Disinfection Services has offered to ship out its germ-killing robots free-of-charge. But first, the San Antonio-based company needs assurances that China will respect the intellectual property of American companies that offer to help.
"We have offered humanitarian care. We will ship robots free of charge. We're really waiting for some confirmation from a Chinese governmental entity that they'll respect the intellectual property from these American companies as it happens," CEO Morris Miller told Cheddar.
Xenex's LightStrike machine uses what's called a xenon arc lamp to put out a broad spectrum ultraviolet light that busts up germs upon contact. More than 450 hospitals use the technology to disinfect rooms and other surfaces likely to pick up infectious pathogens, according to Miller.
"It covers the entire germicidal spectrum and basically deactivates the pathogens that it hits within the hospital environment," Miller said.
The light-emitting robots are used to prevent even commonplace health issues such as urinary tract infections and bloodstream infections, but the spread of the novel coronavirus has increased interest.
"Last week a lot of hospitals were tapping their emergency preparedness funds to bring in robots as a preventative measure to make sure that if coronavirus hit our shores, they would be ready to do it," Miller said.
The device has been tested against the similar Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and showed a reduction in pathogens after a five-minute disinfection cycle. Xenex recommends using the device in close proximity to the emergency department for maximum effect.
"We have tested it against the MERS virus — very effective, easy enough for us to kill in approximately 90 seconds to two and half minutes," he said. "Coronavirus would be very similar."
He added that hospital staff could be trained within 15 minutes to use the device, which looks a bit like a small lamp that flashes like a strobe light.
The CDC estimates that one in 31 hospital patients per day contracts a healthcare-associated infection.
The agency has also confirmed a total of 12 coronavirus cases within the U.S. The death toll has reached 908 people out of 40,171 infections globally.