Global shared experience with this novel virus, can be summarized as:
‘Everybody was at risk, no one was spared unless they were able to isolate and keep their social contacts to a minimum, and even then this virus found its way into almost anywhere there were people. Besides what it cost in lives, livelihoods, and well-being, there was and remains far-reaching economic and societal damage which may never be fully measured or compensated.’
Bottom line? Nobody wants to go through anything like this again and the means of personal protection and effective social distancing now have a greater value, almost beyond measure.
PERSONAL VIRUS PROTECTION
The World is now in the first post Covid 19 phase, and we are not only looking to get ready for the next epidemic, but working hard to figure out the most effective ways to incorporate virus defence practices in our life styles, institutions and healthcare facilities. Market forces are working overtime on providing various products, medications, health care, treatments, safety measures, and vaccines. As of today, Covid19 is still with us, and after a drop in morbidity and mortality this Summer, we are now seeing a resurgence of this Pandemic globally. We are also not just seeing a growing demand for facial masks, shields, gloves, and hand sanitizers but there is a sense that some of these PPP defences, may be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Hand sanitizers are just one part of the PPP range of products, but its importance in helping reduce the risk of surface-to-human spread of the bacteria and viruses, in effect makes it indispensable wherever there are clusters and the movement of people. Even once Covid19 is diminished if not entirely ‘gone’, the broader use of hand sanitizers is here to stay.
Hand sanitizers are convenient, and work well, but there are other defences. Probably the most under-rated one is: washing your hands in soap and water for at least 20 seconds (soap lyses the soft protein shell of viruses and they basically ‘fall apart’ and become inactive and non-infectious). We’re used to seeing hand sanitizers in hospitals, but now it seems one can’t practice medicine or dentistry without hand sanitizers stationed at key points in clinical areas. Hand sanitizers have also spread to public buildings, restaurants, show rooms, or any other facility where people gather. This trend may wane over time with better virus infection treatments, and vaccines; but virus protection measures are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future.
Which hand sanitizer is right for you? Here’s a checklist to help you decide:
- Only purchase Sanitizers that meet regulatory safety and performance requirements. In the USA look for the NDA or ANDA number on the label of the product; in Canada there will be an NPN.
- Safe, effective and preferred choice products will be made with food grade ethyl alcohol.
- Do not buy or use any hand sanitizer containing Methyl Alcohol and/or Propanol; they are toxic. The FDA has a good summary of what not to do when it comes to buying your hand sanitizer product: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/your-hand-sanitizer-fdas-list-products-you-should-not-use. Health Canada’s Monograph for licensing hand sanitizing products spells out the requirements: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=antiseptic_antiseptique&lang=eng
- Ethyl Alcohol is the active ingredient in hand sanitizers, and there are products in the market offering from 60% to 85%; they all work if used as recommended on their labels. The thing to remember is that more alcohol does not make the product necessarily better, but the higher the concentration – the more frequent users may experience dry, irritated and chapped hands.
- Given the potential for ethyl alcohol to dry and irritate hands, many manufactures mix skin conditioners such as Aloe Vera, which can be helpful for some users. These products usually cost more, but if you are a regular user, you may appreciate protecting your hands with a soothing formulation to help avoid dry and irritated skin?
- The other factor to consider is to spread your hand sanitizer purchases across several approved brands; and only buy local. The reason for this is that competition is good for the consumer, and supporting multiple hand sanitizer manufacturers at the local level and within your own country, means you will help increase the sources of supply; thereby avoiding critical shortages, hoarding and price gouging when another viral catastrophe strikes. Public health and safety and security is improved when there are alternate sources of supply, and there are backups to the backups. Another important lesson from Covid19 is that access to PPP products and supplies is critical, and that means having and supporting a diverse network of local manufacturers to rely on. There should be no monopolies or concentration of manufacturing assets in the PPP industry; it’s much safer to have some redundancy and backup, and preferably in your own country.