ATLANTA—Serta Simmons Bedding (SSB), based here, is partnering with HeiQ Group, a Switzerland-based textile innovator, to create the U.S. market’s first antiviral mattress. The agreement gives SSB exclusive access in this country to HeiQ Viroblock technology.
Viroblock, which was previously approved by the European Medical Device Directive for antiviral use in medical personal protective equipment such as N95-equivalent masks, was recently independently tested as 99.99% effective in 30 minutes against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) by a leading Australian infection and immunity research institute.
The introduction of an antiviral mattress couldn’t happen at a better time. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel brands across the country have put numerous cleaning protocols in place to reassure travelers that when they return to travel, they can expect a clean, safe and positive experience,” said Steve Tipton, VP of hospitality for SSB. “As a leader in hospitality bedding, we are committed to being part of the industry’s recovery. These new beds with HeiQ Viroblock will allow hotels to provide an additional level of protection for guests, further enhancing their initiatives. Ultimately, we want to help reassure hotel guests of safety and cleanliness to make their stay more relaxing and entice them to come again.”
He pointed out that many people don’t realize that virus particles are so tiny “they can easily move through sheets to the mattress’ surface, where they find the warmth and moisture they need to persist for days or longer. Independent data suggests that Viroblock may deactivate common enveloped viruses such as influenza and human coronavirus in minutes. And, because Viroblock is cured into the fabric at time of manufacturing, it has better longevity than typical spray-on cleaning solutions.”
This is not the first time SSB has worked with the Swiss company. “We have had a long-standing relationship with HeiQ and have collaborated on several innovations, including HeiQ Smart Temp (Cool Touch) foam technology,” Tipton said. “When the pandemic hit, our companies—driven by a common mission—got to work to find relevant, innovative mattress solutions to address hospitality, guest and consumer requirements.”
According to Tipton, HeiQ Viroblock uses a microsilver-vesicle technology designed for antiviral and antibacterial (together antimicrobial) effect by attracting the oppositely charged viruses and binding permanently to their sulfur groups and using fatty spherical vesicle technology (liposomes) as a booster to help deplete the viral envelope of its cholesterol content, thereby deactivating the virus.
“Essentially, Viroblock is designed to work like a magnet for virus particles that attracts them, binds them and breaks them down until the virus is deactivated,” he said.
This will be unveiled initially in the company’s Serta and Beautyrest hospitality mattress lines. Tipton said that launch plans are currently being devised; however, the technology has yet to be approved in the U.S.
“Much of the foundational work for this launch has been underway for months,” said Tipton. “We have filed all appropriate paperwork and are currently awaiting approvals from both the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
Interest has been strong for the HeiQ Viroblock-treated mattresses from several of the world’s largest hotel brands, noted Tipton. “Aimbridge Hospitality, the global leader in hotel management services, for example, is currently testing our antiviral bedding and accessories to understand the potential impact for guests,” he said. “We are in discussions with others as well, but unfortunately cannot disclose specifics at this time.”
SSB, like many other companies associated with hospitality, has stepped up its humanitarian efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. In March, the company donated 10,000 mattresses to hospitals in areas hard hit by the pandemic. A few weeks later, it launched a platform in conjunction with Relief Bed International to facilitate further donations.
“Sleep is our business and passion—and innovators never stop innovating,” Tipton said. “We saw an opportunity to be part of a solution by making and facilitating the donation of thousands of hospital relief beds—and again, by seeking to introduce the first virus-blocking mattress technology. Our work continues to address the needs of hotels and their guests during this challenging time.” HB