Alcohol-free sanitizers are effective against Covid: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 02, 2020 Published on December 02, 2020

A new study carried by the researchers at the Brigham Young University found that alcohol-free sanitizers were just as effective as alcohol-induced sanitizers.

The researchers believe that the notion that alcohol-based sanitizers tend to be more effective stem from the limited research on the subject.

Through their study, the researchers intended to explore other options. They treated samples of the novel coronavirus with benzalkonium chloride, which is commonly used in alcohol-free hand sanitizers, and several other quaternary ammonium compounds regularly found in disinfectants.

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

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

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

"Benzalkonium chloride can be used in much lower concentrations and does not cause the familiar 'burn' feeling you might know from using alcohol hand sanitizer. It can make life easier for people who have to sanitize hands a lot, like healthcare workers, and maybe even increase compliance with sanitizing guidelines," he said.

Alcohol-free hand sanitizer is logistically simple

BYU professor and co-author Brad Berges said: "People were already using it before 2020. It just seems like during this pandemic, the non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been thrown by the wayside because the government was saying, 'we don't know that these works,' due to the novelty of the virus and the unique lab conditions required to run tests on it."

Since benzalkonium chloride typically works well against viruses surrounded by lipids like Covid-- the researchers believed that it would be a good fit for disinfecting the coronavirus.

For their experiment, they put Covid samples in test tubes and then mixed in different compounds, including 0.2 per cent benzalkonium chloride solution and three commercially available disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium compounds, as well as soil loads and hard water.

The researchers observed that the virus failed to invade and kill the cells, indicating that it had been deactivated by the compounds present in the alcohol-free sanitizer.

"Hand sanitizer can play an especially important role in controlling Covid. This is information that could affect millions of people," he concluded.

The study is published online in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

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Published on December 02, 2020
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