Coping with COVID-19: The craze for disinfectants

Published August 22, 2020, 4:58 PM

by Philippine News Agency

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic persists without a vaccine, Filipinos are relying on disinfectants for an extra layer of protection against the virus.


One of these is isopropyl alcohol, which has been a necessity in every household or office.

According to the World Health Organization, most alcohol-based hand antiseptics contain either ethanol, isopropanol or n-propanol, or a combination of two of these products.

It added that the antimicrobial activity of alcohols result from their ability to denature proteins, with alcohol solutions containing 60 to 80 percent alcohol which are most effective, with higher concentrations being less potent.

Contrary to popular belief, a higher percentage of alcohol does not equate to more effective disinfection of one’s skin or surfaces.

Studies show that 99 percent isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly which means it cannot penetrate the bacteria’s cell wall and kill it completely.

Meanwhile, 70-percent isopropyl alcohol solutions are able to penetrate a microorganism’s cell wall more completely as the presence of water slows its evaporation. This results in increased surface contact time and better coagulation of proteins which kills a microorganism.

Walter Lopez, 42 from Malabon never leaves home without this “life-saving fluid” in his stuff which has become a part of his grocery list.

“I always want it handy and accessible to disinfect my hands,” he said in Filipino.

Despite having ample stocks, Lopez said he buys rubbing alcohol whenever he has the chance, believing that isopropyl alcohol, at this time, is the best defense against COVID-19.

“Having that stuff around ensures me that I have something to protect myself and family against this virus,” Walter said.

Even at home, he always keeps a small bottle in his pocket to be on the safe side but goes for the biggest available size when he does his grocery.

“If I would not be careful, there is a good chance that I might bring home the virus and spread it among my kids and other members of my family,” Walter said.

Mikee Soliven, 24 of Barangay Niugan, Malabon, shares Lopez’s view on isopropyl alcohol. Mikee says she is never comfortable without an alcohol in her pocket whenever she does errands.

Katherine Nepomuceno, also of Barangay Niugan likewise feels very vulnerable outside her home without the disinfectant in her bag or pocket.

“For now, it (isopropyl alcohol) is very essential and I feel paranoid without one handy,” she added.