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Over-Reliance on Hand Sanitiser Gels May Cause More Harm Than Good

Over-Reliance on Hand Sanitiser Gels May Cause More Harm Than Good, Says BICSc 
04 September 2020 | Updated 10 September 2020
 

Dr Andrew Kemp has told a national newspaper that it’s not yet been proven that alcohol-based hand sanitiser could kill the virus that causes COVID-19 on skin.

The Head of Scientific Advisory Board at the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and specialist in disinfection and decontamination told the Daily Express newspaper that: “Hand gels should only be used as a last resort and as a short term temporary measure or stop-gap if soap and water are not available.”

He also stated that there is “no published proof that alcohol gels kill COVID-19 itself.”

 

“Recent research shows the surviving bugs which are not killed by alcohol gels are themselves highly dangerous pathogens and may increase in numbers. This means our routine use of gels could ultimately cause us more harm than good.”

–Dr Andrew Kemp

Head of Scientific Advisory Board at the British Institute of Cleaning Science

 

“Claims on Many Hand Gels That They Kill 99.9 Per Cent of Bacteria are Misleading”

 

Kemp continued:

“I am not aware of any hand sanitiser that has been tested against all species of bacteria. What they actually mean is that they kill 99.9 per cent of the bacterial species they tested against. At the moment there is no published proof that alcohol gels kill COVID-19 itself.

“Even if they did kill 99.9 per cent of all bacteria, there can be more than a million bacteria on your hands at any one time leaving 10,000 alive after sanitisation. These will be in a residue of sugar and protein. Some species of bacteria can thrive on this.”

Kemp also suggests that an over-reliance on alcohol-based hand sanitising gels may contribute to surviving bugs becoming stronger and greater in number:

“Recent research shows the surviving bugs which are not killed by alcohol gels are themselves highly dangerous pathogens and may increase in numbers. This means our routine use of gels could ultimately cause us more harm than good.”

World Health Organisation Guidance states that for best protection, hands should be washed with soap and water, and alcohol-based hand rub can be used if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.

Kemp will present his findings at the International Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance conference in Amsterdam, October 2022.

Editor's note: Dr Kemp's comments are representative of his personal views and do not represent those of BICSc

Picture: A photograph of someone using hand sanitising gel

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 04 September 2020

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