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Sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 towards Alcohols: Potential for Alcohol-Related Toxicity in Humans

Published: 3 December 2021
 by  MDPI
 in Life

Abstract: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative organism that is highly contagious and has been responsible for more than 240 million cases and 5 million deaths worldwide. Using masks, soap-based hand washing, and maintaining social distancing are some of the common methods to prevent the spread of the virus. In the absence of any preventive medications, from the outset of pandemic, alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) have been one of the first-line measures to control transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The purpose of this narrative review is to evaluate the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 towards ABHS and understand their potential adverse effects on humans. Ethanol and isopropanol have been the most commonly used alcohols in ABHS (e.g., gel, solution, spray, wipes, or foam) with alcohol in the range of 70–85% v/v in World Health Organization or Food and Drug Administration-approved ABHS. The denaturation of proteins around the envelope of SARS-CoV-2 positive sense single-stranded RNA virus is the major mechanism of action of ABHS. Due to frequent use of high-percentage alcohol-containing ABHS over an extended period of time, the oral, dermal, or pulmonary absorption is a possibility. In addition to the systemic toxicity, topical adverse effects such as contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis are plausible and have been reported during COVID-19. ABHS appear to be effective in controlling the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 with the concern of oral, dermal, or pulmonary absorption.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 / alcohol-based hand sanitizers / ethanol / isopropanol / dermal/pulmonary toxicity

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