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Published
Jun 23, 2021
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New shoe industry research shows Covid effects on leather

Published
Jun 23, 2021

With an element of confusion remaining around just how manufacturers and retailers should ‘quarantine’ some products in the light of potential Covid transmission, a new report has been released that should be useful to footwear makers and sellers.


Photo: Pexels/Public domain



A team at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) worked with the British Footwear Association (BFA) and said microbiologists found coronavirus can remain on shoe leather for up to two days. But it also found that anti-viral treatment inactivates coronavirus after two hours.

The BFA said the report comes as staff have been concerned at the possibility of transmitting infection through handling leather, and how long the virus could remain on the material and throughout the manufacturing process.

Microbiologist Dr Katie Laird and virologist Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar looked at how the virus survived on different types of shoe leather and cross-contamination on surfaces such as stainless steel (used in sewing machines) and cardboard to assess transfer from shoes in a shoe box.

The study used a human coronavirus OC43, which the team has previously shown to have a similar survival pattern to that of SARS-CoV-2.

As well as finding that OC43 was able to survive on some leathers for up to 48 hours, they also said it could be transmitted to shoe boxes and stainless-steel surfaces during the manufacturing process. However, the danger diminishes fast, despite that two-day survival rate for the virus.

Dr Shivkumar said: “Although the coronavirus can remain infectious on some leathers for 1-2 days, the risk of transfer is greatest for up to a few hours after contamination of the leather.”

And to reduce problems further, when leather was treated with an anti-viral product (in this case, Micro-Fresh) it took the survival time of coronavirus down to just two hours. There was also no transmission from the anti-viral coated leathers to other surfaces two hours after contamination of the leathers. 

The study said anti-viral products can be used during the manufacturing process and can be added to the lacquer and applied in-house. 

Results from the study are to be shared throughout the industry in an online webinar which will include partners such as the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), World Footwear and organisations in Europe and Asia.

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