Published: 12 May 2020
Battling COVID-19: are disinfectants effective?
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered widespread infections across the globe. Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild signs such as a fever, dry cough or tiredness to more serious symptoms such as difficulty in breathing.
The SARS-Cov-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is a new type of novel coronavirus and public health knowledge of it continues to evolve. Proper hand hygiene through the use of soap and water, as well as the use of masks, together with social distancing remain important lines of defence against the virus. But questions have also been raised on whether the use of disinfectants is effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
What is the SARS-Cov-2 virus and how is it spread?
SARS-Cov-2 is an enveloped virus. It is a type of coronavirus with a “corona” (or crown) of spiked proteins around its lipid envelope.
COVID-19 can spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Preliminary information suggests that the virus can survive for a few hours to a few days on surfaces.
Has Viridis been tested against the SARS-Cov-2 virus?
The EU standards EN14476:2013 + A2:2019 are test methods used to measure the effectiveness of disinfectants against coronaviruses. This covers all enveloped viruses including all coronaviruses.
The minimum requirement for a claim of effectiveness efficacy against coronaviruses, including the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease, is to pass EN 14476:2013 + A2 2019 against the vaccinia virus.
EN 14476 is a Phase 2, Step 1 suspension test to evaluate the virucidal activity of chemical disinfectants intended for use in the medical area. According to EU Standards, passing EN 14476:2013 + A2 2019 to either limited spectrum virucidal activity or full virucidal activity allows a claim against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
Viridis has undergone independent testing for EN14476:2013 + A2:2019. At a dilution of 3%, Viridis was found to be effective against the vaccinia virus within 5 minutes.
Based on these test results, Viridis complies with and is recognised under EU standards EN14476:2013 + A2:2019. Therefore, Viridis is effective against coronaviruses, including the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.
Viridis has also been successfully tested against other, more robust, viruses which exhibit similar characteristics to the virus which causes COVID-19. Viridis has been tested to be effective in killing or inhibiting the spread of both enveloped viruses such as the dengue (DENV) virus, and non-enveloped viruses such as the HFMD-causing Enterovirus 71A (EV-A71) virus. It can also kill and inhibit the growth of pathogens with a high survivability rate on surfaces.
In a laboratory test conducted by the Center of Virus and Vaccine Research, Sunway University, Viridis was found to be able to inhibit the EV-A71 virus in 5 minutes, whereas it took another brand of disinfectant (with high toxicity) to be effective only in 60 minutes. Viruses such as the EV-A71 are difficult to inactivate and it can also survive up to 7 days on surfaces. However, Viridis was able to successfully destroy the EV-A71 because of its combination of high antimicrobial active ingredients and long residual efficacy on both hands and surfaces.
In contrast, while the COVID-19 coronavirus has a high survivability rate on surfaces, it is simpler and easier to kill because the individual parts of the virus are held together by weak forces covered by a lipid membrane. That is why a detergent , like soap (which dissolves fat and grease) and water are effective against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Residual efficacy is an important factor in killing disease-causing viruses
The World Health Organisation has recommended the traditional alcohol-based sanitisers against the coronavirus.
However, while alcohol could be effective against pathogens, it evaporates quickly and has low residual efficacy. Some bacteria have also grown immune against alcohol.
Some pathogens, including the COVID-19 causing virus, can survive for up to a few days on surfaces. Only disinfectants with a long residual efficacy can offer long-lasting protection against robust viruses that have long survivability on surfaces.
Based on independent laboratory testing, Viridis has demonstrated longer-lasting residual efficacy than alcohol-based sanitisers. Viridis has been tested to be effective, performing at v-log 4-5 (i.e., 99.999% effective) in killing pathogens, over a 24-hour period, with 8 wear cycles, on surfaces.
Disinfectants should be deployed in high-traffic hotspots
Disinfectants work by killing germs on surfaces. As such, disinfectants can reduce exposure to the spread of diseases through contact on hands and surfaces.
In the current environment, disinfectants can be used as a front line of defence, as part of the overall biosecurity containment system to reduce the risk of transmission of diseases. This is particularly critical in crowded public places and places with poor air circulation such as airports, shopping malls, places of worship, entertainment complexes, F&B outlets, and transport terminals, amongst others. These high-traffic hotspots are vulnerable to the spread of disease due to contact from contaminated surfaces.
While Viridis has not been tested specifically against the virus which causes COVID-19, it can be used to disinfect and provide protection against harmful pathogens in a wide range of industries.