(Waqar Hussain, Lahore)

Coronavirus is playing havoc with the human lives; health, economy, relations …, etc. in fact, now it is a war between the super species (Homo-sapiens) and the inferior one(viriae). We, have not yet made vaccine, it is months away, so we have to sue the policy of “flight “instead of “fight”.

Coronavirus is thought to spread primarily by patient’s respiratory droplets, emanated by cough, sneeze, spit. These virus containing droplet can be inhaled directly or mostly, they spread on surfaces; clothes, objects, etc. when a healthy person touch such virus contaminated items, his hands carry them and later, when he touches or scratch his eyes, nose, mouth; Coronavirus finds its way to enter his healthy body. In sum, healthy person carry himself the virus by hand to put it into his own body. Now, there are two ways; disinfect virus contaminated surfaces, clothes, objects, and the transferring tool ‘hands’.

After choosing option of disinfection, problem of selecting appropriate disinfectant arises? which is good and effective disinfectant (decontaminator applied on non-living object) and antiseptic (decontaminator applied on living body)?

There are many disinfectants and antiseptics available in market. User’s curiosity is to find, which is more effective and sure to kill virus. Below are some disinfectants with their mode of action and efficacy.

Coronavirus is also called enveloped virus and that means it has an outer envelope, composed of protein and fat and due to its outer layer, it is relatively simple to kill with most disinfectant, as compared to virus that don’t have envelope. Here we are somewhat lucky!

1) Dettol:

It is admixture of Chloroxylenol (4.8%) is active ingredient and supposed to kill 99% bacteria and flu virus; Isopropyl alcohol (kill 99% germs); Pine Oil (kill germs); Castor oil soap (kill germs and cohesive); Caramel (it gives Dettol its yellowish-brown color) and the water acts as a diluent, binding the other ingredients together.

So, Dettol has 3-4 germ killing agents so is very effective to kill coronavirus. But it is advised to see the list of ingredients, it must contain chloroxylenol, the primary killing agents. (PRECAUTION: it is bad to breathe Dettol! The main risk reported is “Dettol poisoning” of pulmonary aspiration, leading to pneumonia, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and/or sudden cardiorespiratory arrest.)

2) Ethanol (Ethyl alcohol), Spirit:

Ethanol has many names: ethyl alcohol, methyl carbinol, Fire water, grain alcohol, etc. Spirit is widely used in PAKISTAN that contain 95% ethanol, 5% methanol (cause blindness, madness and even death) plus small amount of pyridine or acetone to make it flavor abominable, thus makes it undrinkable.

Ethanol kill micro-organisms by denaturing their protein and dissolving their fats. Ethanol(CH3CH2OH) is a polar molecule with water loving hydroxyl group (-OH) and that loves to disrupt fat and protein of virus coating. It is effective against most bacteria’s, fungi and many viruses. Thus ethanol does germ murdering.

3) Hand Sanitizer:

Hand sanitizer contain ethanol that kill 99.99% germ. Ethanol cannot be applied on hand as it is very thin liquid and second, it dries up skin. Sanitizer has 70% ethanol as an active ingredient plus glycerin, Aloe Vera gel to make it easy to use and to moisten skin. Some flavor is added to make it fragrant, and some bitter taste compound isopropyl alcohol are added to avoid its misuse. Sometime, amino methyl propanol, which has fishy smell, is added to make its flavor unsuitable for other purpose. But the main ingredient is ethanol, which kill germ. Before buying, must watch ethanol content; it must be 60% or above. Preferably 70% to gives better results.

4) Soap, the best of all:

All soaps: cloth soap, toilet soap, medical soap, liquid soap, etc. are equally good. As each soap molecule have two parts; its head is polar and hydrophilic (water loving) and like to interact with water while its long tail is non-polar (made of carbon obtained from fat) is hydrophobic (get away from water) and loves the fat of virus. So, one can say: tail is virus loving.

When soaps come near coronavirus, Coronavirus has fat made bilayer casing with protein embedded in this membrane. In coronavirus, fat has two sheets Fat-1 and Fat-2 with tails facing inwards.

The fat tail of soap molecules is attracted to fat in virus membrane (proving birds of same feathers flock together). Fat tail of soap takes the advantages of the presence of membrane protein which can perturb the neatly organized bilayer to insert themselves in viral membrane.

If the soap is only small amount, soap molecules only loosen the membrane. If the soap is more, then it creates micelle around membrane fat. They also attract hydrophobic amino acid and membrane protein, extracting them from the membrane, thus rupturing virus structure. It should be kept in mind structural integrity of virus is essential for infection. So washing your hands with soaps protect you better from infection, then washing with water.

1) The longer you lather, the higher is chance of destroying virus.

2) The more is soap, the greater is chance of destroying virus.

So, wash hand with good amount of soap and for at least 20 seconds, rubbing every parts of hands especially finger tips.



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