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Understanding CDC’s Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Recommendations for COVID-19

Disproving the 70 Percent ABHR Myth

In the most important public health fight of our lives, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a proven COVID-19 killer, a trusted certainty against a madly uncertain virus.

However, public debate and confusion over the alcohol content needed in sanitizers has left many people unsure of just what percentage ABHR they need to use to have assured protection against the coronavirus.

For the record, there is no set 70% alcohol content rule for alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHR). The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using ABHR with 60-95% alcohol in healthcare settings. The CDC advises a standard 60 percent ethyl alcohol base and a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol base for sanitizers.

“Unless hands are visibly soiled, an alcohol-based hand rub is preferred over soap and water in most clinical situations due to evidence of better compliance compared to soap and water,” the CDC stated, confirming sanitizer’s potent ability to neutralize COVID. The CDC also notes hand rubs are generally less irritating to hands and are effective in the absence of a sink.

The CDC stresses that the exact contribution of hand hygiene to the reduction of direct and indirect coronavirus between people is currently unknown.

“Laboratory data demonstrate that ABHR formulations in the range of alcohol concentrations recommended by the CDC inactivate SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC notes.

And a 60-percent ethyl hand sanitizer rubbed on hands for 20 seconds is guaranteed to flat-line COVID.

“This percentage of alcohol is effective in killing bacteria and viruses on our hands,” Hadley King, MD, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, told NBC News. “It works by denaturing the protective outer proteins of microbes and dissolving their membranes.”

The New Jersey Department of Health concurs a 60% alcohol sanitizer “is an effective way to kill the COVID-19 virus.”

In a scary world where there are few certainties, using a 60-percent ethyl alcohol hand sanitizer is a certain way to quickly eradicate COVID-19.

“There is sound scientific basis for the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitizers for inactivation of commonly transmitted bacteria and viruses, especially lipid-enveloped viruses like coronavirus,” Benhur Lee, a professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told’s Angelo Richera. “Alcohol-based hand sanitizers DO work against coronaviruses; this is what is universally recommended by hospital infection control to help prevent the spread of COVID.”


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