The Best Ways to combat Coronavirus
Even a virus this nasty has a few vulnerabilities that science can exploit.
While everyone is rushing to find a cure for Covid-19, countless researchers are testing new vaccines and revisiting older therapeutic drugs that were originally developed for other diseases.
Everything is happening so fast and by the time you read this article, the situation may have changed (and hopefully for the better). So what do the scientists think? Will they be able to stave off this invisible viral opponent? Below are a few tools we can use to hold back and mitigate just how deadly this virus will be.
Combating a Virus Through Contact
Every virus wears a heavy-duty protein coat. This coat protects its critical genetic material from damage-causing elements. COVID-19 has an extra outer layer of these fatty molecules, and this turns out to be good news because this layer is easy to tear open with soap or alcohol-based disinfectants. What works best? Soap does and you don’t need to bother with the antibacterial based soaps. Once the fatty layer is damaged or compromised, the virus dies you can wipe it away or wash it down the drain.
So what’s the trouble in trying to destroy something that you can’t see? That’s what everyone is asking as they find themselves in the middle of a coronavirus crisis that currently has many of us behind four walls in our homes. Creating enough consistent distancing is one effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. If you can avoid catching it in the first place, you never spread it to others.
So, because COVID-19 is a new virus and there is not a vaccine available for it and making vaccines can take quite some time, there is more than one hurdle to get over. Also, we don’t have any proven treatments for it either, yet there are a few things that show promise but nothing we can rely on with certainty as of yet. This is why stopping the disease from spreading rapidly and overwhelming hospitals is currently our best bet.
Outside of our bodies, there are a few known effective ways to destroy the virus and can also reduce our chances of becoming infected. So, how does this work? It is helpful to know how this virus is structured. SARS-CoV-2 is a type of enveloped virus. What this means is that it has an outside layer around its genetic material. This outside layer is made of fat molecules and leaves the virus vulnerable to being destroyed. Proteins in this layer may also be targeted for destruction in this layer and even the genetic material itself.
The National Institute of Health’s website has provided guidance for Infection Prevention and Control of Epidemic- and Pandemic-Prone Acute Respiratory Infections in Health Care. Click here to visit their site.
Washing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water works and is basically the most reliable way to destroy the virus. The soap contains molecules known as surfactants, which have two ends: one end dissolves really well in fats, while the other end dissolves really well in water. When these molecules come into contact with the fatty outside layer of SARS-CoV-2, they dissolve it and tear the virus apart.
It doesn’t really matter what brand of soap you use because all types of soap contain these surfactant molecules. If you buy a soap that contains additional antibacterial ingredients, it won’t matter because a virus is not a bacteria. No need to worry because the surfactant molecules contained in these soaps still do the job.
But what if you can’t wash your hands right away? What if you’re nowhere near a sink? What do you do then? If you’re just making a quick trip to the grocery store? Not to worry because this is where hand sanitizers come in handy as another way to fight back COVID-19.
It is important to remember that not all hand sanitizers are created equal. The preferred type of hand sanitizer you use should be alcohol-based. You will more than likely run across some non-alcohol-based sanitizers, but beware because these have been shown to be far less effective against viruses. Alcohol-based sanitizers are proven to be the most effective against many types of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
Alcohol-based sanitizers need to contain a minimum of 60% alcohol to be effective and when you’re using it to clean surfaces, the CDC recommends a minimum concentration of 70%. The alcohol molecules do the work here by damaging the structure of virus proteins and, this is what destroys the virus. Like a one-two punch, they also dissolve the fatty outside layer of the virus.
Hand washing and alcohol-based sanitizers are effective ways to destroy any traces of the virus on your hands. When it comes to hard surfaces, there are other methods that work in similar ways to destroy the virus.
Your grandmother used it and so can you.
Bleach solutions are quite effective at cleaning hard surfaces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 0.1% solution from household bleach reacts with and destroys virus proteins and the virus genetic material. It should be noted that it is important to spray it on the surface and then leave it to act for around 10 minutes for the maximum effect before wiping off.
A minimum of 0.5% hydrogen peroxide solution is also effective against viruses. It works in a similar manner to chlorine bleaches, reacting with and destroying virus proteins and genetic material. Similarly, it should be left to act for up to ten minutes. It’s also a good idea not to mix it with other cleaners, particularly those containing vinegar. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide makes corrosive peracetic acid, and while this is also used in some cleaners, it’s not a good idea to mix it up like this yourself.
Targeting the virus molecules floating in the air.
Another way to fight COVID-19 is by using Bipolar ionization which is experiencing a surge in popularity as the coronavirus pandemic raises concerns about air quality.
Bipolar ion generators can be integrated into HVAC systems. This technology utilizes specialized tubes (cold plasma) that take oxygen molecules from the air and convert them into charged atoms that then cluster around microparticles, surrounding and deactivating harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens, and you guessed it, viruses.
These charged atoms also attach to aerosolized breath droplets from sneezing or coughing and also dust particles that can transport viruses. This process leaves them enlarged where they are more easily caught in filters. Bipolar ions are a part of an active process that provides continuous disinfection.
Ions produce a chemical reaction on the surface of the cell membrane which inactivates the virus and can reduce 99.9% of microbes in a matter of minutes. These machines are effective and designed for application in commercial structures like restaurants, schools, movie theaters, and cruise ships, so they can be in the upper budget range for the average consumer household.
Other than the practice of the physical distancing, which we hope you’re all observing, washing your hands and surfaces are the best personal action you can take to prevent from spreading the virus. When you do these things, you are reducing the pressure put on our health services, hospitals, doctors, and nurses. In the end, this will help to save lives.