HOW SOAP WORKS ON CORONA?
Content Courtesy Vivek Vasudevan
The science behind hand washing.
Before we move into what soap or alcohol-based sanitizer do the coronavirus, let's see how the virus makes a new infection. When an already infected person breaths or coughs, the viruses come out of her lungs through the respiratory tract into the atmosphere.
By design, the COVID19 infects through droplets. That means the virus can't stay in the air for a long. The large droplets then fall on the surfaces because the droplets are heavy.
However, you have a high chance of getting infected if you are facing an infected person. The pathogen can then directly enter your mucous membrane through your eyes or nose or mouth.
The basic characteristics of a droplets infection is that they are heavy. How far it goes depend on at what velocity the droplets come out. If the patient is breathing, the droplets won’t reach half a meter. And if he coughs, it can reach up to one meter. Or if he is sneezing, it may well reach up to two meters. So it is always good to use a mask when you are in public places.
When the droplets settle down on a surface, viruses can stay in it for a long time, up to 72 hours in the infectious state. Estimates show that the half-life of viruses on inert surfaces such as plastic, floor tile, glass is up to 3.5 hours. The quantity of the remaining viral particles in the droplet will reduce to half in the next 3.5 hours. So on it may remain there to infect others for 3 days in the non-absorbent surfaces.
When you touch those surfaces, the contagion gets transferred to your hand. And if you then touch your face, the virus will enter your mucous membrane. And through the respiratory tract, reach your lungs and start replicating by breaking into cells.
Now let’s come to soap. Soap has two-sided molecules. One end of the soap molecule is attracted to water and the other end to fat. The coronavirus has a layer of fat holding the protein coat to bind the whole assembly of Envelope Protein. When it interacts with soap, the fat layer gets pulled apart by the soap molecules. It demolishes the virus into harmless shards of viral assembly, incapable of infection.
It takes a minimum of 20 seconds to happen. Let’s try testing the time needed for washing off some oil spread on your hand with soap. Annihilating the viruses through droplet infection on your hand might take the same time as cleaning oil off your hand.
Sanitizers also works the same way as soap does. Pulling the fat layer of the virus apart and demolishing the virus. However, you need a 60 - 90% concentrated alcohol to make it work. So it is always safe to use soap, which is more effective and less expensive.
You can use any soap to kill the virus. There is no difference between a liquid handwash or antibacterial branded soaps. All soaps do the same. Common bathing soap that comes in bar shape is as good as expensive liquid soaps.