Kymberly Martin

Stemming the flow: Can COVIDSafe, hand sanitisers help?

Just how effective is the COVIDSafe smartphone app when it comes to lessening the effect of a new wave of COVID-19? And be wary of alcohol-free hand sanitisers as there is no evidence they are protective against COVID-19.


University of Sydney modelling suggests that a second COVID-19 wave will occur if social distancing declines (i.e. if the average number of contacts made by each individual each day increases) and the rate of testing declines. But maintenance of a large-scale testing regimen for COVID-19 and widespread community practice of social distancing was vital.

The study concluded that the COVIDSafe smartphone app has the potential to be an important adjunct to testing and social distancing. And, depending on the level of community uptake of the app, it could have a significant mitigating effect on a second wave of COVID-19 in Australia.

And according to CHOICE for a hand sanitiser to be effective when it comes to killing COVID-19 it must contain between 60 and 80 per cent alcohol, depending on the type of alcohol. Products that claim to adhere to the World Health Organization formula should contain at least 80 per cent ethanol or 75 per cent isopropyl alcohol.


“Our members asked us to look at whether any alcohol-free options would work. The simple answer is no,” CHOICE managing editor Marg Rafferty said. “One of the experts we spoke to suggested filling a drink bottle with water and detergent and using it to thoroughly wash your hands when there are no bathroom facilities available, rather than using alcohol-free sanitizer.”

Also, pay attention to how the sanitiser feels on hands. If it’s sticky and doesn’t evaporate quickly, it may not have the appropriate amount of alcohol needed to kill the virus.  Also, if the hand sanitiser doesn’t smell of alcohol or feel cool on skin, be wary and steer clear of hand sanitisers that only state they kill bacteria or germs, as this doesn’t mean that they will be effective against COVID-19, she said.

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