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COVID-19: WHO Hand Sanitiser Formula Can Disable Coronavirus, Study Finds

One of the most 'needed' things currently after protection masks, hand sanitisers are the next best thing to regularly washing your hands with soap. Due to the increased demand and lack of supply of hand sanitisers, spotting one at your regular medical shop or even at a supermarket can be quite difficult now.

Amidst the shortage, prominent health organisations such as WHO and CDC had come forward with hand santiser recipes, that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection [1][2].

And, a recent study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases has confirmed that two hand sanitizer formulations recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are effective in disabling the virus that causes coronavirus disease [3].

How To Make Hand Sanitiser At Home


Hand Hygiene Is Critical In Preventing Virus Spread

Currently, there are no vaccines or drugs to prevent coronavirus disease. The best and single most important way to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is hand hygiene [4]. Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is the best and most effective form of protection, however, this may not be practical at all times, especially for healthcare workers [5].

Various studies have pointed out that alcohol-based hand sanitisers can provide a quick, simple substitute for handwashing. But, there have been doubts about the effectiveness of hand sanitizers against the COVID-19 virus [6][7].


WHO Recommended Hand Sanitisers Inactivate COVID-19 Virus

The recent study explored the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitisers against the coronavirus and have reached at the conclusion that WHO-recommended formulations can sufficiently inactivate the virus after 30 seconds [8].

WHO recommends two alcohol-based sanitiser formulations, which generally, can help prevent the spread of pathogens. The first kind of sanitiser tested by the researchers were comprised of ethanol (80%), glycerine or glycerol( 1.45%) and hydrogen peroxide(0.125%). The second type of sanitiser is comprised of isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol (75%), glycerine (1.45%) and hydrogen peroxide (0.125%) [9].

Hand Sanitiser: Risks Associated With Too Much Use Of It

The researchers exposed the coronavirus particles in the lab cultures to each formulation for 30 seconds and found that both formulations had inactivated the virus.


What Did The Result Suggest?

The active ingredients in both the formulations, ethanol or isopropanol were tested individually and it was understood that at a concentration of at least 30 per cent, the ingredients can inactivate SARS-CoV-2 - the coronavirus.

The hand sanitisers sold in medical shops typically have an alcohol concentration of around 60 per cent, thereby pointing out that it can indeed help inactivate the virus [10]. However, homemade hand sanitisers made without the necessary skills, and medical-grade ingredients may not be effective in inactivating the coronavirus [11].

The researchers also added that the study findings have given a go signal for pharmacies and hospitals to make their own sanitisers by following the WHO formulations.

Note: Inactivating the virus is not the same as that of removing the virus. And, the study exposed the virus for a time span of 30 seconds. Viral removal is a method in which all viruses are simply removed from the sample and viral inactivation is where the viruses may remain in the final product, but in a non-infective form [12].


On A Final Note…

The researchers concluded that the study results are based on the sanitiser being in contact with the virus for at least 30 seconds and this may not be the case always. It was also added that vodka is unsuitable for making hand sanitiser as it is not the right grade of alcohol.

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