AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry returned to the Capitol halls Monday to promote an air filtration company. Perry also has a seat on the board for the company.

Integrated Viral Protection, or IVP, is a Houston based company that brands itself as “the only proven airborne solution to catch and kill actual SARS-CoV-2” and other viruses. It is unusual for current or former lawmakers to promote goods or businesses, but Perry told reporters that he believes it could be a “gamechanger” for the fight against COVID-19.

“You can literally and soundly — with science as your guide — say you are in the safest place that you can be,” Perry said inside the Texas Capitol.

When asked by reporters about his involvement in the company, Perry jokingly said “well, that’s not your business. I’m not a public official anymore.”

However, Perry was accompanied by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, who said they were not there to promote the company.

“What we are here to do is promote solutions,” King said. “…we hope that some of this money that’s coming down can be steered toward school districts and other institutions — public institutions — to try to purchase this type of equipment. Only equipment that is proven to work as well as this.”

King’s office did not respond to questions about whether he intends to pursue legislation that would fund these IVP devices in schools. 

Perry did say that he has had discussions with Gov. Greg Abbott about this product, as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, and Gov. Bill Lee, R-Tennessee. 

“All of those governors have been criticized for their positions on masks…if that’s your position, that’s your call and your state,” Perry said. “But the point is, here is a device that science and a year’s worth of testing in Texas public schools are telling us this is the way to deal with this.”

IVP devices were installed in more than 150 Texas K-12 campuses, including Galveston ISD and Fort Worth ISD. King said equipment was donated to Slidell ISD, where the superintendent said the district had a “great experience” all year. 

“I can’t imagine starting school last week without these machines in our buildings,” said Taylor Williams, the superintendent of Slidell ISD. “The confidence it gave our teachers and our parents, especially now that this new variant is impacting kids a little differently.”

Monzer Hourani is the founder and inventor of IVP. Speakers noted that he was named “Engineer of the Year’ in 2021 by the Engineering News-Record, as well as that the American Society of Mechanical Engineers named IVP as “the only airborne solution to fight COVID-19.”

When asked by reporters, Peel said the devices are not being proposed as an alternative to vaccines and masking.

“This is an additional layer of protection to vaccines, to social distancing and other CDC guidelines,” Peel said. “This is a layer of protection to give us some sense of security to have a normal life again.”

IVP’s “Biodefence Indoor Air Protection System” has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale.The travel units are priced just under $1,000, but the venue units are nearly $14,000. 

Research speakers referenced

Speakers at the press conference referenced research studies with universities and testing in Texas schools as “evidence” that IVP air filters work. One of the studies — written by physicians from Texas A&M and the University of Houston’s colleges of medicine — was not specific to IVP’s filtration devices. It was about evidence that suggests COVID-19 can be airborne, and for that reason saying “there needs to be an increased effort in terms of technical and policy measures to mitigate the spread of viral aerosols.”

The authors noted that there still isn’t a definitive consensus about whether COVID-19 is spread through droplets or airborne transmission. 

“Although the current evidence regarding airborne transmission needs to be interpreted with caution, it should at least encourage the adoption of simple measures that can mitigate aerosol dispersion,” it said.

While the research study did not specifically examine IVP nor reference it, the authors did discuss “heat inactivation” as one pathway to eliminate aerosol transmission of COVID-19. That is one of the methods executives at IVP say is used in their filtration devices. 

The study has not been peer-reviewed.