Good hand hygiene has emerged as the gold standard of protection against the deadly novel Coronavirus that has millions in its spate, globally. While doctors and health experts recommend thorough and frequent handwashing with plain soap and water as the most effective form of hand hygiene, the use of sanitisers comes a close second.
This has triggered an unprecedented spike in the sale – and demand – for hand sanitizers in the market. A demand that may be difficult for the existing manufacturers to meet, especially given the ongoing lockdown.
These unique market dynamics have generated space for people to make a quick buck by manufacturing and marketing fake products. Last month, cops busted such a unit operational in Hyderabad, known to have sold over a lakh pieces of fake hand sanitizers.
“Using fake or sub-standard sanitizers can put you and your family at a greater risk of contracting the infection by creating a false sense of security that microbes on your hands have been neutralised. Therefore, it is vital to know if the product you’re relying on for your safety is equipped to protect you from Coronavirus and other contagious infections,” Dr Saurabh Arora, Arbro Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. and Auriga Research Pvt. Ltd.
How Hand Sanitisers Work
Hand sanitizers have gained the reputation of being potent microbe killers. However, not all sanitizers are created equal, and the composition of the product often governs its effectiveness. Here are some things to bear in mind when buying your next batch:
There are two types of hand sanitisers – alcohol-free and alcohol-based. The latter usually comprises elements such as ethanol (ethyl alcohol), isopropyl alcohol or n-propanol.
The alcohol-based sanitisers -with alcohol content in the range of 60-95 percent -are most effective in killing bacteria, germs and viruses. This includes, but is not limited to, E coli, MRSA, hepatitis A virus, rhinovirus, HIV, influenza A virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and other coronaviruses.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs last month in an advisory on the review of prices of essential commodities, has requested the state governments and the UT administration to ensure availability of ethyl alcohol/ethanol/ENA to the manufacturers of hand sanitisers, including waiving the 300 per cent excise duty on ethanol used for the purpose of making sanitisers.
The alcohol breaks the protein envelope holding the viruses’ structure together, thus, rendering it incapable of attaching itself to the human cells. Alcohol-free sanitisers are made of compounds like benzalkonium chloride and their effectiveness in killing microbes is rather limited.
How to Ascertain the Effectiveness of Hand Sanitisers
With the gap in supply and demand of hand sanitisers widening, the risk of fake or sub-standard products flooding the markets is very real. In this situation, when the quality of the product you use can mean the difference between good health and battling a life-threatening infection, ascertaining the effectiveness of these sanitizers have become more important than ever.
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