Tests have confirmed that two hand sanitizer formulations recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) inactivate the virus that causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). The tests also provide reassurance that store-bought sanitizers combat the virus.
The results of the new tests have been published as a preprint in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
In the absence of a vaccine or effective antiviral drugs, hand hygiene is a mainstay of efforts to prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.
People who have the infection may show few, if any, symptoms, but still be able to transmit the virus. The virus spreads via droplets in the air or on commonly used surfaces, such as door handles.
Washing the hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is a highly effective way to defend against harmful bacteria and viruses.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers provide a quick, simple alternative. However, there has been a lack of hard evidence that they are effective against SARS-CoV-2.
Guidelines to date have stemmed from research showing that the sanitizers inactivate other coronaviruses.