Protective Essentials You Need During Global Pandemic
If there is one thing we can take away from the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be the fact that most countries in the world are truly unprepared to deal with a disease that spreads with such reckless speed and virulence.
Health experts are warning that if extreme and draconian measures are not taken by governments and individuals across the world, the number of casualties from the pandemic could further rise exponentially. This makes it all the more important for members of affected communities to follow the guidelines recommended by the authorities to minimize their chances of exposure to COVID-19. After all, being extra cautious is key to creating habits that ultimately result in a higher level of protection for you, and for other people as well.
Below we are listing some of the items that you must have in your arsenal of protective essentials in order to minimize your risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
Soap (and Water)
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early evidence points to person-to-person contact as the main mode of transmission for COVID-19. This means that being in close contact with an infected individual (a distance of within 6 feet) puts you at very high risk of contracting the disease. This proximity to the other person makes it very easy for their respiratory droplets to land in your mouth and nose, or to get into your lungs through inhalation.
The CDC has also suggested that people can put themselves at risk when they touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then touch their own mouth, nose, and eyes. While it is currently believed that this is not the main way the virus is transmitted, experts still emphasize the importance of proper hand-washing in minimizing the risks posed by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.
A lot of people don’t really understand how critical hand-washing with soap and water is to disease prevention, but a simple look into what happens on a molecular level will shed light on why it is actually one of the most important weapons we have against the spread of COVID-19 and many other disease-causing microorganisms.
Simply put, washing with soap and water is the most effective way of destroying pathogenic organisms on your hands, including the ones that cause COVID-19. This is all thanks to the chemistry that works behind the scenes. Soap molecules possess a hybrid structure that comprises a hydrophilic head (binds with water) and a hydrophobic tail (shuns water and bonds with oil and fat). Many viruses and bacteria have lipid membranes that are essentially an envelope of fat that holds their whole structure together, including (in the case of the COVID-19 virus) the protein spikes that jut out of their surface, which are instrumental in the process of infection. When the hydrophobic tails of water molecules attach themselves onto this lipid layer, they act like tiny crowbars that pry the pathogens open, destroying them in the process.
While there are viruses and bacteria that are generally more resilient to the germ-killing activity of soap and water, a good and vigorous scrubbing of one’s hands is still very effective in preventing infection. This is why health experts recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and also why they tell you to opt for washing your hands even when a hand sanitizer is available for you to use.
Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer
The next product you should make sure to have at the ready is a hand sanitizer. Using a sanitizing product is a good alternative to hand washing because they are—under certain conditions— known to quickly reduce the amount of harmful microorganisms. However, the CDC does offer a few caveats.
First, hand sanitizers should be alcohol based, and it should contain at least 60% alcohol. This is because sanitizing products with alcohol content of between 60% and 95% have been shown to be more effective at killing more types of pathogens and killing them completely rather than just reducing their growth or their numbers.
Second, hand sanitizers should be used in a significant enough amount such that you’re able to get your hands fully wet, meaning it covers your hands entirely. You should also rub the sanitizer all over your hands until it dries up. This means you shouldn’t wipe it off before it even gets the chance to dry up on its own.
Finally, you should also be aware that even alcohol-based sanitizers in high enough concentrations may not be as effective if your hands are greasy or if they are visibly dirty. This is because the presence of other substances on your hands can reduce the potency of alcohol, allowing some of the pathogenic microorganisms on your hands to survive. In such circumstances, washing your hands with soap and water is preferred.
Antimicrobial Hand Protectors
Knowing that diseases like the COVID-19 can spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, we are now seeing many people choosing to wear medical gloves to protect themselves when they venture out into public. While public health organizations around the world agree that wearing gloves play a vital role in preventing the spread of diseases in clinical settings, they are divided on whether or not gloves have actual discernible benefits when used by members of the public.
Some health experts worry that wearing gloves could give people a false sense of security, while others simply want the public to prioritize proper personal, respiratory, and hand hygiene over the use of protective products for the hands. Moreover, gloves are hard to wear, and they can easily tear apart even when a person is just going about their daily business.
Thankfully, we now have a more practical alternative to standard medical gloves. The proprietary antimicrobial hand protector, Ghluv, is much easier to use than gloves, in addition to being more durable and possessing built-in properties that reduce the likelihood of viruses and bacteria collecting on its surface. Moreover, unlike many standard medical gloves, it is hypo-allergenic and is discreet enough to be worn any time of the day.
Possessing a tubular structure, Ghluv can be easily made to rest on your wrist, where you can wear it the whole day. When you need it for protection, you simply have to pull it down to cover your hand. It’s very useful for when you want to avoid direct contact between your hand and communal surfaces like doorknobs, shopping carts, and automated teller machines.
Ghluv uses what is known as HeiQ Antimicrobial NPJ03 that has tested effective against Coronavirus. It combines the best properties of silver nanoparticles and vesicle technology to inhibit the growth and persistence of many microorganisms, including enveloped viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. The silver nanoparticles help block the viral proteins responsible for infection, while their vesicle structures directly target the lipid membrane of the virus, effectively depleting the cholesterol content of the “envelope” and thus inactivating the pathogenic agent.
While ordinary textiles that are not treated with HeiQ NPJ03 can quickly become a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, those that are treated with this technology actively inhibit pathogens upon contact. This greatly minimizes the potential for re-transmission of disease-causing microorganisms from the product.
Surgical Masks and Respirators
Presently, the CDC recommends that only individuals who are sick and those who are caring for someone who is sick should wear face masks. However, this could soon change as health experts in the United States are now rethinking about the possible advantages that wearing masks could offer in terms of preventing further spread of the disease. Experts elsewhere in the world have emphasized the effectiveness of mask use in terms of reducing the risk presented by people who may be infected by COVID-19 but are currently asymptomatic, meaning they are not yet showing signs of being ill.
Time will tell whether or not health authorities in the U.S. will recommend broader mask usage by the general public. In the meantime, it’s helpful to clarify what exactly face masks—and a related class of personal protective equipment called respirators—can do for wearers.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, what people commonly refer to as “face masks” are the kind that are usually labeled for use in “surgical, isolation, dental, or medical procedures.” It is a loose-fitting device that basically creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and the immediate environment.
If worn in a proper manner, a face mask is very effective at blocking large-particle saliva and respiratory secretions that you may emit from your nose and mouth. This makes them very useful if you believe you are ill and you want to prevent yourself from infecting other people. It may also help reduce your exposure to potential contaminants in the environment.
However, it should be noted that face masks are not designed to be effective at filtering out aerosolized or very small particles in the air that may be produced by coughs, sneezes, and even some medical procedures. As such, you should treat them as minimally protective if your goal is preventing yourself from contracting a disease. Surgical masks are also not intended to be reused. Once your mask gets soiled or damaged, you need to dispose of it immediately and replace it with a new one.
Unlike surgical masks which are loose-fitting, respirators (like N95 respirators) are designed to achieve a very close facial fit, causing minimal leakage around the edges of the device and making them very efficient at filtering airborne particles through the filter media. An N95 respirator, for example, can block at least 95 percent of particles up to 0.3 micron in size. Respirators with higher ratings can block even greater percentages of very fine particles. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that not even respirators provide foolproof protection against infection.
The CDC currently does not recommend that the general public wear respirators to protect themselves, emphasizing instead the importance of personal, respiratory, and hand hygiene. However, if you are a member of the healthcare community, someone who is working in other high-risk professions, or someone who is immunocompromised, you are definitely going to benefit from using a respirator.
In the time of a global pandemic, we need all the protection we can get not only to safeguard our own health, but also to protect the well-being of our loved ones and of the other people in your community. Make sure to keep the above-mentioned recommendations in mind. They are likely to remain useful long after this pandemic situation has come to pass.