Hollywood is planning to use a "germ-zapping robot" to kill coronavirus on set. All of the lab-certified robots use ultraviolet light to kill SARS-CoV-2 on different surfaces. This would drastically reduce the possibility of cast and crew contracting the virus from high-traffic areas. San Antonio's Xenex Disinfection Services are the minds behind the "Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot." Dr. Mark Stibich is the company's co-founder and chief scientific officer. The doctor told The Hollywood Reporter how he's trying to help the entertainment industry get back up and running with the $125,000 machines. Netflix, Amazon, and Sony have all placed inquiries about the robots in recent weeks.
"The way we like to think of it is that our pathogens, like coronavirus, have evolved — but our tools that clean the environment haven't," says Stibich, who holds a master of health science degree and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "We're still basically using buckets and mops and wipes, and what we need is a new tool in order to reduce the risks that the environment may cause an infection."
Places like the Mayo Clinic, Stanford, and USC are all already using the machines. But, now Hollywood has looked to them as an option. The robots don't have warm-up or cool-down periods, so they can quickly and efficiently disinfect dozens of rooms each day. After people leave the room, the machine bathes the space in UVC light for five minutes.
"Our safety protocol is really developed, and we've seen results with reductions in the amount of infections in hospitals," Stibich added while pointing to its standard use in health care settings. "That's why we want to bring it over to the entertainment industry as the studios open up."
"What's crazy about this situation is that everyone is trying to figure it out on their own, and that's really tricky. It's like if I went and sat in on a class about film lighting, I would have no idea what's going on," he continued. "So for someone in entertainment to jump in on, say, a CDC webinar and try to figure out what's important there, I just don't think we can expect them to be able to do that."
Do you think the machines are worth a try if it means things can get back up and running quickly? Let us know in the comments!