Coronavirus latest: Does hand sanitiser kill viruses? Where can you buy hand sanitiser?

Coronavirus latest: Does hand sanitiser kill viruses? Where can you buy hand sanitiser?


Hand sanitiser sales have almost tripled as public concern over the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow. Sales for hand sanitiser in February 2020 went up 255 percent in supermarkets, according to a report by Kantar Worldpanel.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Given the media focus around the outbreak of COVID-19 in February, it’s unsurprising to see shoppers prudently protecting themselves from illness.”

In comparison, digital pharmacy medino has seen sales of hand sanitiser rise by 1044 percent in February when compared to the preceding three month period of November to the end of January.

Top 5 Locations by hand sanitiser sales:

  1. London
  2. Brighton
  3. Cambridge
  4. Luton
  5. Birmingham

Superintendent Pharmacist Giulia Guerrini says “Some customers have told us they’ve ordered for offices and workplaces and we’ve seen large quantities purchased by new customers who have recently come across our site.

“We’ve done well to keep up with demand and we’ve managed to source hand gel from a number of different suppliers here in the UK”.


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Does hand sanitiser kill viruses?

According to the NHS and Public Health England, a hand sanitiser requires at least 60 percent alcohol content to kill most viruses.

Most contain 60 to 95 percent alcohol, which would be an effective solution.

However, there are now options that don’t contain alcohol – which will not be effective at killing bacteria.

Is hand sanitiser better than hand washing?

Health experts say hand sanitiser should not replace hand washing as your main form of hygiene.

Advice from Public Health England (PHE) urges people to wash their hands to the time it takes you to sing happy birthday twice.

Sally Bloomfield, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Guardian the best advice was to wash your hands with soap and water.

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Or if that is not possible, the use hand gel.

She also advised to “avoid touching anything you don’t need to touch, and be mindful of what you do touch – such as door handles and bus poles”.

And she said “if you can’t wash your hands or use gel after coming into contact with things, do not touch your face”.

Marc Donovan, chief pharamacist at Boots, said: “If there’s no facilities for hand washing then anti-viral foams and hand sanitisers do have a role to play, but they don’t take the place of appropriate handwashing.”

Where can you buy hand sanitiser?

Hand sanitiser is available from most good pharmacies and supermarkets.

However, hand sanitiser has been flying from the shops, with many stories across the UK running out as people stock up.

One Boots shop was seen displaying a sign which read: “Hand sanitises are currently limited to two per customer.

“Help us to support as many people as possible to keep their hands clean this winter.”

A spokesperson for Boots said that there had been an increase in sales of the gel, but that stock was still available in warehouses for stores and online.

People have taken to Twitter after shops had bare shelves – including Tesco, Superdrug and Asda.

One person tweeted: “Went to Tesco yesterday to get a new hand gel. Was told that they had sold out, one woman having bought 36! Fortunately ASDA had a couple left. 

“Govt needs to issue sensible guidance over this coronavirus.”

Another said: “I’m on a sanitising hand gel buying mission in #Balham – everywhere has sold out! Sainsbury’s had two left – they told me one lady tried to buy a whole shelf of it.”

Another wrote: “Tried to buy hand sanitiser today at superdrug – the WHOLE section was out of stock.”

“Tried another two stores, same thing! Apparently there’s a shortage of hand sanitisers all over.. scary!”

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