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Yes to ethanol 70%. Say NO to fancy herbal extracts or essential oils!

Question: What’s worse than not having hand sanitizer during a viral epidemic/pandemic?

Answer: A “fake” hand sanitizer, one that does not kill viruses but gives you a (false) sense of security. True, some essential oils have activity against certain viruses in certain circumstances (plants have to defend themselves against viruses), but this does not mean that the essential oil in question provides protection against infection by any virus.

I know how hard it is to get hold of hand sanitizer.  It is also hard to get hold of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol.  Incidentally, vodka is about 40% ethanol, it will not do the trick. Gin is even lower than that.

If you can’t get hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently with soap. Rinse well and dry. You can then apply that moisturizing cream to prevent dry skin so bad that it cracks and becomes an easy entry door for bugs of all kinds, including viruses.

One of my earliest memories is being rubbed with alcohol all over at my grandparents home. My older brother was also there. My younger brother was a a baby and was lying, feverish and paralyzed from the waist down, in his cradle, at home. That Summer day in 1953 we had been to a public swimming pool and my baby brother had been infected with the polio virus (also an RNA virus like coronavirus).

The polio vaccine has not been yet created by Jonas Salk (it was released in 1955), and it would be a long time (1961) until the Sabin vaccine would be ready. In 1953 we were going around with little bags of camphor hanging from our necks. Camphor was no help, of course, but it was all there was.

How I wish vaccines had been available then! Later on, when they became available, I had both the Salk and the Sabin vaccines. In fact I had every vaccine for every child illness as they became available.

Last year my younger brother died, after a life marred by polio in so many ways.

I can tell you than when the vaccine against Covid-19 is released I will be first in the line.

People who think that their children don’t need vaccines have very short memories.

I have a long memory. My children and my grandchildren were vaccinated as recommended.  I have the flu vaccine every year as soon as it gets released.

These are difficult times. I have family in Milan, they are fine but in self quarantine like everybody else in North Italy (now all of Italy). I hope that a vaccine will be available soon (one year?). In the meantime I was my hands and

“Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands;
Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms (fever and cough);
Frequently clean your hands by using alcohol-based hand cleanser or soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow (not hands!) or a tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands;
Update your flu-vaccination: this will not protect you against the coronavirus, but may protect you from getting flu-related respiratory symptoms.”

Be safe.




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