In recent days, doctors and scientists have explained why a humble bar of soap is one of the most important resources to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. What should we know about it?
In recent days, fear and misinformation have spread through the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Due to this, doctors, scientists and health entities have emphasized the importance of taking preventive measures. Thus, we find an enemy of the coronavirus: soap.
Through Twitter, professionals such as Alberto Sicilia, doctor of theoretical physics, and Palli Thordarson, a chemistry professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, have explained why soap is one of the best options against this virus that it has everyone on alert.
Why is soap an enemy of the coronavirus?
To help us understand why soap is an enemy of the coronavirus, the professionals mentioned above explain to us, first of all, that viruses are “microscopic beings” that need to enter into human cells in order to multiply because by themselves they cannot.
The coronavirus, in particular, is made up of three elements: genetic material (RNA), proteins that allow it to adhere to human cells, and a fat envelope that protects it. It is in this last element that soap performs its function as an enemy of the virus.
The composition of the soap includes salts with fat-like substances, known as amphiphilic, which may have lipid-like structures on the virus membrane. Thanks to these characteristics, it is a product that can act depending on the environment you are in.
Therefore, these molecules enter to compete with lipids in the virus membrane, which helps dissolve it to inactivate this microorganism, which is not actually a living being but can keep it active outside the body for hours, and even days. .
This explains why soap is the enemy of the new coronavirus and many other disease-causing germs. Hence the importance of ensuring good hand washing as a preventive measure to prevent the spread of this infectious agent that is causing us fear.
Can soap kill the coronavirus?
Soap helps dissolve the fatty membrane that protects viruses, and therefore “collapses like a house of cards and dies” – experts say. However, as we already mentioned, viruses are not really alive and, therefore, they do not die but they are inactivated with soap and a good hand washing.
Dr. Dan McGee, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Helen DeVos in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said in an interview for the newspaper Today that “Handwashing is the second-best way to prevent infection.” The first option is a vaccine, if available, of course.
But is washing your hands enough? Maybe not entirely. However, its role in the prevention of infectious diseases has been proven by science. According to research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, handwashing helps stop the spread of the disease.
In addition, according to this same source, this habit could reduce the chances of contracting a respiratory disease by up to 54%, which outweighs the effect of any other option. All of these facts have been supported by more recent studies, such as one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In this research, it was found that improving the handwashing rates of travelers visiting 10 of the world’s main airports is decisive in reducing the spread of many diseases of infectious origin.
Soap and disinfectants: what is the best option?
Thorough handwashing is one of the most important measures to prevent infection and spread of pathogens such as coronavirus. However, because of the same fear that has spread worldwide because of this disease, many people are thinking that disinfectants are superior to soap when it comes to acting against the virus.
How true is this? Well, health experts and entities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prioritize the use of soap. To date, there is no evidence to show that antibacterial soaps are superior to normal versions in disease prevention.
However, if soap and water are not on hand, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help. Even in places like the office, it might be helpful to have disinfectant wipes on hand. The downside is that the use of soap is being underestimated, and the use of disinfectants is becoming absurd, to the point that they have become excessively expensive.
Opt for the use of soap
Therefore, it must be clear that soap, in addition to being available to everyone, is the best option. In fact, it works in any of its versions: liquid, solid, with aroma, dishwashers, the versions only marketed for men or women, in short, all.
The most important thing is to keep in mind that they must be used together with water and for at least 20 seconds. Thus, we should wash our hands whenever necessary, at least five times a day, making sure we rub our hands together, washing our fingers and even our wrists well.