All of these laboratory studies have been translated into the healthcare environment. 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% 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 US also showed a remarkable 58% reduction in infection rates. So, unsurprisingly, copper alloy touch surfaces are now being deployed worldwide in airports, trains, train stations, busses, restaurant kitchens and gyms. The new Francis Crick Institute in London is kitted out in copper alloys, supporting its foresight and vision as a world-leading research centre for the public good.

Some common viruses have no vaccine available, such as the winter vomiting virus (norovirus) – the scourge of cruise ships. Others, such as influenza, mutate so rapidly that it is difficult for vaccines to keep up – and they need to be reformulated annually. Copper surfaces however wipe them out regardless of year-on-year changes in the microbes.

Stainless steel which, ironically, is considered easier to keep clean due to its bright surface. However, we know that these are covered in microscopic indentations and scratches from regular wear and tear, leaving valleys for superbugs and viruses to reside in and escape cleaning procedures. Cleaning happens at best once a day, while copper works 24/7 – so it is surely an important adjunct in the fight to keep the built environment clean.