A new scientific test seems to indicate that a commonly used hand sanitizer, DAB, may be an effective tool against the ongoing spread of coronavirus. Currently, the sanitizer's active ingredient is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, there is new evidence that could indicate its effectiveness, according to a report from CBS affiliate WSBT.
The testing itself was conducted by BioScience Laboratories in Bozeman, Montana and was commissioned by Three Kings Corp., the Mississippi-based company that manufactures DAB. The product features the active ingredient benzalkonium chloride, or BZK, which is an ammonium compound. While BZK has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and is permitted for over-the-counter sale by the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC does not believe it will work to slow the coronavirus spread. There are a number of hand-rub products that they do recommend, though hand sanitizers are limited to alcohol-based lines.
The study's leader, virologist Dr. Volha Teagle wasn't able to obtain a sample from the current strain of coronavirus, and instead, her team selected a structurally similar strain, known as 229E, which was used in the test. "In the lab, DAB did eliminate 99.9 percent of the virus in the 30-second test," said Dr. Sidney Bondurant, chief medical officer for Three Kings. "We also carried the test out to 60-seconds and 120-seconds of exposure time. All three of the tests showed the same thing."
On March 18, the CDC published an explanation on its website as to why it does not recommend BZK-based sanitizers, stating that "available evidence indicates benzalkonium chloride has less reliable activity against coronavirus than either of the alcohols." A spokesman for the agency also told the outlet that "guidelines are, and always will be, based on the best available science. We continue to evaluate our guidance based on new and emerging data. There is no plan at this time to change the current recommendation."
In a follow-up email to the outlet, Bondurant wrote that the CDC is "recommending just alcohol sanitizer, but we think that is based on a lack of knowledge about our data on the effectiveness of DAB against this virus."
While the CDC doesn't indicate it will change its official outlook on BZK in regards to coronavirus, they have begun to re-evaluate their position on face masks, in part due to emerging evidence that a significant number of infected people display no symptoms at all.