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Killing 'Coronavirus'

Killing 'Coronavirus'

What does "Germs" mean?

Two landmark papers in the history of hand hygiene were published in the 1930's. "Ethyl alcohol as a germicide." (Archives of Surgery, 1939, 38:528-542. Price PB) and "The germicidal action of alcohol." (Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 1903, 148:548-552 Harrington C, Walker H.). Both papers refer to the concept of germs and this word has entered the common everyday speech of the public and is used by brands to refer to a general collection of pathogens such as bacteria, virus, yeast, fungus and mould.

Does fluidnotgel kill 'Coronavirus'?

Yes, the fluidnotgel formula is effective against enveloped viruses such as novel coronavirus. Published studies have shown that this specific formula meets the EN 14476 standard for 'limited-spectrum virucidal' [1]. What this means is discussed below.

So fluidnotgel kills all viruses then?

A seemingly simple question, but I'm afraid there needs to be a nuanced answer. Apologies in advance to any virologist reading this article designed for the non-technical reader.

When we talk about viruses, we need to separate each virus species into 2 broad types, namely: enveloped viruses and non-enveloped viruses. The envelope is a lipid membrane surrounding the virus like a soap bubble. When the envelope is 'burst' the virus dies. Luckily for humankind, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), like all coronaviruses, is an enveloped virus making it much easier to kill than non-enveloped viruses.

As for hand sanitisers and disinfectant products, there are three categories of virucidal activity (according to the EN 14476 standard - the EN test for virucidal, or virus killing, effectiveness). In descending order of effectiveness, namely, fully virucidal, limited spectrum virucidal activity and lastly, envelope virucidal activity only (see table below). The fully virucidal class is noted by the effectiveness of a formula on the hard to kill non-envelope poliovirus. Envelope-only class is only effective against envelope viruses (such as vaccinia virus and the novel coronavirus). The limited-spectrum class is somewhere in between and is effective against envelope viruses (such as vaccinia virus and novel coronavirus) but also some non-envelope viruses eg. adenovirus and norovirus (think stomach bugs).

Let's unpack this a little more. When we say that a formula will/won't kill or be effective against a particular virus, we mean this as per the EN 14476 standard. This requires each strain of tested virus is reduced by 4 log steps (ie. 99.99%) in less than 2 minutes for hand sanitisers. In reality, a formula like fluidnotgel which also kills non-enveloped viruses in the limited-spectrum does have activity against even Poliovirus but not to the required 4 log standard to meet full virucidal classification. Published data [2] on the fluidnotgel formula shows that Polio virus is killed to log 2 in 120 seconds ie. 99% which is impressive nonetheless. A second published paper by the same and related authors shows that the fluidnotgel formula is effective to 4 log steps against enveloped viruses including inactivated bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), adenovirus, and murine norovirus as a surrogate for human norovirus and is more effective than alternative formulation containing isopropyl alcohol. [1] This is the basis of the limited-spectrum virucidal claim.

Our fluidnotgel formula has thus been shown, in published trials, to meet the requirements of EN 14476 with respect to killing enveloped viruses. This accords with the advice from WHO, NHS and Public Health England that a hand santiiser formula with 80% alcohol will kill novel coronavirus.

1. 10.1016/j.ajic.2009.07.009 2. Steinmann, J., Becker, B., Bischoff, B. et al. Virucidal activity of Formulation I of the World Health Organization's alcohol-based handrubs: impact of changes in key ingredient levels and test parameters. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 2, 34 (2013)
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