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Americans buy cleaning products in fear of coronavirus: will they help

Due to concerns over the advent of the new COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States, consumers tend to stock up on cleaning products, disinfectants, and hand antiseptics. Writes about it Time.

Photo: Shutterstock

But can these products do anything to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19?

"Standard cleaners that kill other viruses are expected to be good against SARS-CoV-2," said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of the infectious disease division in New York. However, Glatt notes that since this is a new virus, "we clearly don't have much data on it." And an important caveat: cleaning agents must be used correctly.

Many cleaning products advertise their ability to kill almost all disease-causing bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses. Labels usually give the least indication to use enough product to wet the surface for a few minutes and then dry the surface. “Some of these products don't work when they come in contact with a surface,” says Glatt. They work by being on the surface for some time and air-dried. "

Although many household cleaning products have proven effective against known coronaviruses, such as the multiple strains that cause the common cold, they have never been tested for this specific virus. In line with EPA guidelines, companies "can say their product can be effective against the Chinese coronavirus," explains Brian Sansoni, a trade group spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute.

Low-tech cleaning solutions can help prevent disease. One 2010 study found that bleach and malt vinegar alone can kill flu viruses that linger on surfaces; however, mixing them together can be dangerous.

On the subject: How viruses arise and why their massive outbreaks are not accidental: the opinion of the epidemiologist

Numerous media recommend wiping surfaces in public places to prevent the spread of the virus. Dr. Rick Martinello, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Yale University of New Haven’s Health System, says this isn’t necessary. At the moment, it has been proven that COVID-19 is mainly distributed by airborne droplets, in other words, through coughing and sneezing of infected people. There is evidence that coronaviruses can live on inanimate surfaces for up to nine days, but it is not yet clear how likely human infections are when touching these surfaces.

“I would not recommend anything other than regular cleaning,” says Martinello. An exception, of course, is if someone in your home is diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19.

The CDC has repeatedly stated that regular hand washing is also a simple but effective way to reduce the chances of getting sick. The agency recommends washing wet hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, and then rinsing them with running water. If water is not available, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer made with at least 60% alcohol, but warns that it does not kill all the germs.

The representative of the company for the production of disinfectant detergents Purell said that the demand for products is growing, and they are ready to increase production.

A Clorox spokesperson also confirmed that the company “has increased the production of disinfectants and is closely monitoring the problem to be prepared to meet people's needs.”

On the subject: How to distinguish coronavirus from the common cold: doctor's advice

Retailers spur ever-increasing demand. At a New York-based CVS, buyers are urged to purchase cleaning products to “protect against the virus.”

A CVS spokesperson said the company was working with suppliers to meet demand, although some stores may have “temporary shortages” of cleaning products.

A spokesman for Walgreens confirmed that there is an increase in demand for hand antiseptics in stores, but assured that there is enough product available.

Read the latest news and everything you need to know about the outbreak of a new coronavirus from China. ForumDaily special project “Chinese Coronavirus”.

Read also on ForumDaily:

How viruses arise and why their massive outbreaks are not accidental: the opinion of the epidemiologist

How to distinguish coronavirus from the common cold: doctor's advice

WHO raises global risk assessment of coronavirus to maximum

Alcohol and garlic: World Health Organization refutes myths about new coronavirus

Threat to the global economy: how coronavirus brought down financial markets

Miscellaneous In the U.S. coronavirus Special Projects
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