US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — Around us epidemics are raging. Washing our hands, we do not just wash the viruses down the drain – the main work is done by the fatty substances contained in the soap.
Posters on the wall, radio news releases, a doctor in a television interview – during the coronavirus epidemic everyone says the same thing: “Wash your hands!” Already annoying, right?
SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spreads COVID-19 infection incredibly quickly, but overall, the virus is quite vulnerable and dies easily. Soap has been recognized by researchers as the best weapon against this virus.
“Virus death” is a relative concept because viruses actually never live. Without metabolism and its own cellular structure, there is no living creature. Separated from another organism – for example, from yours – the virus cannot multiply.
Therefore, he needs to find a new host cell.
Coronavirus infects massively
The virus is transmitted through drops of mucus trapped in the air or on the arm. Then he gets on the door handles, railings or other surfaces that a large number of people touch.
If SARS-CoV-2 behaves like other coronaviruses – which has not yet been fully proven – then, according to estimates by the World Health Organization, it can persist on solid surfaces for several hours. At a favorable temperature and humidity, the virus can persist on the surface for several days.
The virus does not spread on soft surfaces, reports WHO.
The virus is transmitted through surfaces more easily than directly from one person to another. SARS-CoV-2 is heavy, so it does not remain in the air, but quickly settles on the ground – unlike, for example, measles virus.
The one-meter distance that everyone is now advised to observe is too long for the virus if the infected person sneezes or coughs exclusively in a handkerchief or sleeve.
SARS-CoV-2, on the other hand, is massive. At its peak, the virus spreads a thousand times more actively than the related viruses that caused the SARS SARS epidemic in 2002-2003, according to a new German study.
This explains the speed with which the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading.
Soap is the best solution, alcohol antiseptic is in second place
Once in the hands of a new person, the virus can easily enter the body through the face. According to studies, a person touches his face 20 times per hour or more often. Eyes, nose and mouth are the direct path for the virus to the “new home”.
Once in a new cell, the virus turns it into a kind of “copy machine,” which “makes several copies” of the virus and eventually dies.
This chain must be broken – before it’s too late. Hand washing thoroughly is the best way.
Ways to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection have not been studied so far, but earlier studies report that the risk of transmission of infections by airborne droplets is reduced by washing hands by 20%.
Washing our hands, we do not just wash the viruses down the drain: soap molecules weaken even those viruses that do not remain on our hands. Fortunately for humans, SARS-COV-2 is just one of these viruses that soap helps to combat. For example, with the polio virus, everything is different.
The secret of soap is in its fats
Using the protein in the envelope, the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters the cell and attaches itself inside. With the interaction of the protein coat and soap, the second wins. The shell is destroyed.
It is important to foam the soap well. The water temperature does not matter. In order to kill germs with water, you need boiling water. On the other hand, warm water is better: in it, the fatty substances of soap spread faster than in cool.
An alcohol antiseptic has a different effect. Alcohol in its composition weakens the chemical characteristics of the protein shell, can disrupt the shell and destroy the genetic material responsible for the activity of the virus.
When buying an antiseptic, you should study the label: as the studies say, to defeat the virus, the alcohol content in the antiseptic must be at least 60%.
However, an antiseptic is inferior to soap in terms of effectiveness. The effectiveness is reduced primarily because many do not wait for the antiseptic to dry, and already begin to do something with their hands. An antiseptic will not help very dirty hands either.
WHO recommends using an antiseptic as an alternative to soap only in cases where washing your hands is not possible.
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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.