Alternative gel hand sanitizers and non-alcohol-based long-term sanitizers for surfaces and skin with anti-viral activity for COVID‑19 response
While we await vaccines or effective treatments for COVID-19, hand and surface sanitizers are going to remain essential tools in the emergency crisis today, and in the return-to work reality. COVID‑19 is a global pandemic. This not only means that it threatens all of humanity; it also means that it has stressed our globalized supply chains, meaning that the raw ingredients for hand sanitizers have become difficult to obtain. The WHO formula is an excellent emergency solution, but the liquid formulation does not remain on the hands long enough to properly disinfect, and it is also harsh on the skin when used frequently for a prolonged period. A gentler formulation is required, and gels that remain on the hands for at least 20 seconds are preferred. The standard ingredients used for gelling sanitizers, however, are not available because of both the supply and demand pressures. Furthermore, any alcohol hand sanitizer, gel or liquid, is only truly effective on otherwise clean hands: the presence of dirt or grease render it far less effective.
In Windsor-Essex, the Trant Lab at the University of Windsor has come together a group of for-profit companies to develop made-in-Canada solutions. We have already disbursed tens of thousands of litres of sanitizer to emergency workers and the public. This grant supports our transition to designing 1) new gelling formulations using readily available ingredients; 2) water-free, oil-based formulations that will be effective even on dirty hands to ensure that essential workers can remain safe while doing their work out in the community; and 3) long lasting and safe liquid disinfectants that will ensure that commonly touched surfaces remain COVID-free with minimal maintenance. Our sanitizers are being screened against bacteria and both a rat coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2. The industrial team, represented by Wolfhead Distillery and Peak Processing on this grant, have been assisting with regulatory compliance, scale-up to thousand litre batches, packaging, distribution, and possible commercialization of these formulations to make sure that our new effective recipes will get into the hands of the public as quickly as feasible.