Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: What is FDA doing to increase the supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer?

With COVID-19 cases on the surge around the world, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been regularly updating its guidelines on how to tackle this pandemic and stay safe. FDA is considered as one of the top-notch governing bodies when it comes to regulations for public health safety. For FDA, health care personnel safety remains a top priority amidst this pandemic along with public health safety. This safety and greater good of the society is in part directly related to the supply of approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Temporary Guidelines

Early during the pandemic, FDA was focused on issuing guidelines, rather temporary ones, in order to overcome the demand and supply gap created by the increased demand of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. This dilemma rose to an extreme during the early days as it became difficult for both, health care professionals and general public, to get their hands on approved sanitizers and sanitizer hand wash.

Now that the dust has settled, it can be clearly seen that there are still some hotspots that need to be addressed properly. Some larger and relatively well known hospitals and institutions have been able to stock up on the much needed alcohol-based hand sanitizers. However, it’s not the same story for smaller outpatient facilities and hospital systems. FDA also understands that some consumers might still not be able to find alcohol-based hand sanitizers in their local shops or pharmacies.

Shortage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers

Some of us, if not all, would have experienced this while going to buy hand sanitizers. Here, one should understand that there is no such thing as best hand sanitizer. Instead, there are hand sanitizers that are approved and fulfill the requirements for public safety.  You should focus on buying such sanitizers rather than facing the pell-mell rush during these days on every other departmental store or better yet order online.

Washing hands remains the best defense

Here we are going to reiterate the importance of washing hands with bar soap and water. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing remains, hands down, our best defense against this virus. However, if soap and water is not available easily and let’s be honest, there are situations where soap and water is not available; in such situations you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Now, you should also know that only those hand sanitizers that have about 60 percent alcohol are recommended.

Wash your hands for 20 seconds, multiple times in a day to stop the spread of COVID-19”

To address an increased demand, every alternative is sought and same was the case for fuel ethanol. FDA reviewed its temporary guidelines previously in April as data came in from fuel ethanol manufacturers. The data indicated that some products might contain harmful carcinogens due to involvement of chemicals such as benzene and gasoline. Although typical fermentation and distillation does not yield such harmful agents but such carcinogens can be present in technical grade ethanol production. So FDA is collaborating with the industry to ensure that dangerous levels of agents are not present even if ethanol is used. FDA is specifying “interim level of certain impurities that they have determined can be tolerated for a relatively short period of time”. This is also due to the fact that hand hygiene has become immensely important due to public health emergency during this pandemic and also to address the issue of hand sanitizer unavailability.

Guidelines can be changed or modified

FDA also stated that for them, public health safety matters the most and that as the situation develops they can modify, change, or even withdraw these temporary guidelines. For any such authority, human lives are important and therefore they try to balance the pros and cons. Such authorities don’t make any decisions by just doing superficial assessment. Instead, these processes involve continuous contemplation, brain storming, and untiring efforts of many. If you have children around the house then you should take care while handling instant hand sanitizers. If ingested, take your child immediately to a poison control centre or seek medical help.  Always make sure that your children should use hand sanitizer under adult supervision.

A collective effort

Around the world, authorities and governments are making efforts to stop the spread of this disease and save lives. You too can add to this effort by practicing social distancing and hand hygiene. Increased supply of hand sanitizers will definitely help curb the spread of disease by aiding good hand hygiene. Collective measures as a society can help us save many lives. This is all there is to know about what FDA is doing to increase the supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. This is a good step and should be appreciated as such.

Dettol understands the importance of this effort and has therefore made Dettol hand sanitizers available online. If you still have any questions, you can reach out to us right away. We’ll be more than happy to help you out.

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