Alcohol-free hand sanitizer just as effective against Covid as alcohol-based versions – health

A new study from researchers at Brigham Young University finds that alcohol-free hand sanitizer is just as effective at disinfecting surfaces from the Covid-19 virus as alcohol-based products.

The BYU scientists who conducted the study suspected the CDC’s preference for alcohol sanitizer stemmed from so far limited research into what really works to disinfect SARS-CoV-2.

To explore other options, they treated samples of the novel coronavirus with benzalkonium chloride, commonly used in non-alcoholic hand sanitizers, and several other quaternary ammonium compounds commonly found in disinfectants.

In most test cases, the compounds wiped out at least 99.9 percent of the virus within 15 seconds.

“Our results indicate that alcohol-free hand sanitizer works just as well, so we could, maybe even should, use it to control Covid,” said lead study author Benjamin Ogilvie.

Alcohol-free hand sanitizers, which are also effective against cold and flu viruses, have a number of advantages over their alcohol-based counterparts, explains Ogilvie.

“Benzalkonium chloride can be used in much lower concentrations and will not cause the familiar ‘burning’ sensation you may experience when using alcoholic hand sanitizers. It can make life easier for people who need to disinfect a lot of hands, such as health workers, and may even improve compliance with disinfection guidelines, ”he said.

In the face of shortages, “having more options to disinfect hospitals and public places is critical,” added Ph.D. student Antonio Solis Leal, who conducted the research experiments.

Switching to alcohol-free hand disinfection is also logistically simple.

“People were using it before 2020,” said BYU professor and co-author Brad Berges.

“It appears that during this pandemic, non-alcoholic hand sanitizers were thrown out because the government said ‘we don’t know if they work’, because of the virus’s novelty and the unique laboratory conditions needed to conduct tests on it. to feed, ”Berges added.

Because benzalkonium chloride typically works well against lipid-enveloped viruses such as Covid, the researchers thought it would be a good fit for disinfecting the coronavirus.

To test their hypothesis, they put Covid samples in test tubes and then mixed them into various compounds, including. Two percent benzalkonium chloride solution and three commercially available disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium compounds as well as dirt and hard water.

They worked quickly to simulate realistic conditions – because hand sanitizer must be disinfected quickly to be effective – they neutralized the disinfectants, removed the virus from the tubes, and placed the virus particles on living cells. The virus failed to invade and kill the cells, indicating that it was inactivated by the compounds.

“A few others have looked at using these compounds against Covid,” Berges said, “but we’re the first to actually look at them in a practical time frame, using four different options, with the realistic circumstance of getting dirty. your hands before you use it. “

The team believes their findings “could in fact lead to a change in government guidelines regarding hand sanitizer,” Berges said.

Ogilvie hopes the reintroduction of non-alcoholic sanitizers to the market can alleviate shortages – and reduce the likelihood of people coming into contact with potentially ‘nebulous’ alcohol sanitizers that have surfaced in response to demand.

“Hand sanitizer can play a particularly important role in controlling Covid. This is information that can affect millions of people, ”he said.

(This story was published from a wire agent feed with no changes to the text.)

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