Preliminary report suggests 30% Alcohol effective against SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus)

Warning: I am neither a biologist, nor a journalist. My reading of this is naive, and is posted simply to draw attention to a study by seemingly reputable scientists. Seek qualified opinions, this may be nonsense.

Please include a link to this post of you pass this information on. To those people who misreport things for the purpose of click-bait, please don’t!

There is a preliminary report, posted on 17th March, which seems to find that lower concentrations of alcohol are effective against SARS-CoV-2.
I’m not qualified to have a meaningful opinion on this, but I’ll post it here to see if anyone can shed more light on it.

Notably, both tested alcohols, ethanol and 2-propanol were efficient in inactivating the virus in 30s at a minimal final concentration of at least 30%

Points to bear in mind:

  • This is only one study.
  • I may be misinterpreting the results.
  • The study was conducted in laboratory conditions, rather than the real world.
  • The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

The implication, if true, is that alcohol such as Vodka or Rum could be used as a sanitiser for hands and surfaces, particularly relevant given the current shortages of pharmaceutical and industrial products.

All advice is that hand-washing with soap is the most effective way to destroy SARS-CoV-2. However, where running water is not readily available, an effective hand-sanitiser would be the next best thing.

My own approach is currently to act on the findings in this study, but as a last resort.

Hand-washing with soap is, by far, my first choice. A hand-sanitiser that meets WHO standards is my second choice.

If neither of these are available to me, then I’m using a small spray bottle filled with some 40% alcohol (by volume).

2 Replies to “Preliminary report suggests 30% Alcohol effective against SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus)”

  1. I fully agree that hand-washing with soap is the most effective.
    To disinfect surfaces I was using 70% isopropyl alcohol which was expired. (I was thinking that alcohol can’t expire?).
    But I was told that I should not use it. Got recommendation instead
    BLEACH concentration
    1 teaspoon bleach per 1 cup of water
    Do you agree?

    1. Bear in mind that ‘bleach’ is a generic term for a number of different chemicals (and concentrations thereof), so the advice you’ve been given is more or less meaningless beyond general hygiene. There are guidelines by the European Centre for Disease Control available here – Persistence of SARS_CoV_2 virus. Options for cleaning (2020-03-26).pdf

      If the link above goes stale, search for the link title to find the updated version.

      Alcohol doesn’t so much expire, but it evaporates if not properly sealed. This would reduce the concentration from 70%. Also, other constituents in the mix could degrade. However if it’s been stored properly, I’d expect it still to be as effective.

      If you’re cleaning surfaces in your home, and there’s no reason to suspect any member of your household has developed Covid-19, then try not to get too carried away with cleaning beyond what you’d normally do – it’s a slippery slope to anxiety.

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