Hand sanitizers vs. Coronavirus: Facts that you need to know
We see them in various colors and container sizes. Some are
even like bagtags. Whether they are orange or blue in color, or found in
dispensers, being put on cute, triangular bottles, hand sanitizers— hand
sanitation and proper hand washing, in general—are in the spotlight for weeks
now, with coronavirus epidemic spreading worldwide.
Yet we ask: do hand sanitizers really fight germs and
viruses? And, with the coronavirus spreading, is it really helpful?
Coronaviridae includes a large number of viruses that can infect fish, birds,
and mammals. Some famous examples of these viruses include SARS-CoV and
MERS-CoV, and due to their high case fatality rates, these viruses are
prioritized together with “highly pathogenic coronaviral diseases other than
MERS and SARS” under the Research and Development Blueprint published by the
A novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is associated with human to human transmission and severe human infection has been recently reported from the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province in China. This virus strain is the cause of the current epidemic on certain areas in China.
Coronaviruses, like the COVID-19 strain, have a protective envelope which contains lipids, and these lipids are systematically arranged for the protection of the virus’ genetic material and other active components.
Disinfectants like quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) or QUATS are ideal in fighting viruses. Most
commonly used disinfectant, QUATS are membrane-active agents interacting with
the cytoplasmic membrane of bacteria and lipids of viruses. The hydrophobic
activity makes QUATS effective against lipid-enveloped viruses. Ideal hand
sanitizers contains these QACs.
The mode of
action of QACs against viruses includes the destabilization and disorganization
of the lipids, proteins and nucleic acids that build the viruses. The surface
active sites in their molecular structures allow them to destabilize the
complex lipid – protein interactions that protect the genetic codes of viruses.
studies were conducted to test the efficacy of using QACs against
Coronaviruses. One research has experimented with various disinfectants and
found out that 0.10% of a quaternary compound with 79.0% of ethanol
provided at least a 90.9% reduction of the virus from the surface. One
disadvantage of ethanol alone as disinfectant is that it is concentration
dependent. Once it evaporates no residual effect that protects the skin from potential
disease causing organisms like coronavirus.
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand sanitizers are
not as effective as soap and water. However, they recommend that if soap and
water is not available, one should use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains
at least 60% alcohol. And when using them, it’s important to rub
the product all over the surface of your hands until your hands are dry.
Formulating effective and high-quality personal care products, Dell Biologics Inc. (DBI) has created hand sanitizers that contains high-generation QACs. QAC, pure or in combination with alcohol, leaves a film on skin when sprayed that could still act as antimicrobial barrier and gives a person longer protection against disease causing microorganisms like COVID-19 . It is therefore more efficient and effective than just plain alcohol.
Moreover, DBI’s hand sanitizers contain special essential oils that doubles up protection against bacteria and viruses. Essential oils have also been found to have virucidal activity against enveloped viruses. Various essential oils have been found to be effective against Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV -1 and HSV-2), and lemongrass essential oil has been studied to have virucidal properties against Ross River Virus (RRV). When it comes to extraction of essential oils, studies show that there are no two same batches of extracted essential oil, so it means to say that when it comes to efficacy, each batch has a unique structure. This also means that viruses and bacteria won’t be able to develop resistance that fast to counter the efficacy of essential oils.