Ex-FDA Assoc Commissioner Peter Pitts on Hand Sanitizer COVID-19 Pandemic Protection


Mr. Pitts
Peter Pitts, former FDA Associate Commissioner, chimes in on Hand Sanitizers and COVID-19.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — One of the best ways to combat the COVID-19 virus is to practice social distancing. But, in many instances, people need to go out and conduct regular, daily business. 

Therefore, that entails going out into public, resulting in possible exposure to the virus and an increase in consumption (and hoarding) of alcohol-based germ-killing gels, foams, and wipes, as well as respirator masks, for individuals looking to stave off the Corona Virus, and other nasty germs, before becoming ill.

That has left hospitals, doctor’s offices, airports, and public places with mass shortages. 

Across America companies that use alcohol in their products – from makers of mouthwash to distillers of gin – are shifting into product to fill the need.

However, that isn’t enough, experts on the hand sanitize shortage situation believe.  

A recent Bloomberg report found that: “Disinfectants and sanitizers that help fight the novel coronavirus may be absent from store shelves for weeks, as chemical manufacturers struggle to get the raw materials they need to make the products.”

In particular, the Bloomberg article points out the raw materials needed for cleaning supplies “can’t solely be sourced from the U.S.,” according to the story. Many of the ingredients for hand sanitizers – as well as dispenser parts – are obtained from China. But shipments from that country have dried up.

“Every part of the supply chain is disrupted,” said Peter Pitts, former FDA Associate Commissioner and President and co-Founder of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest

“Containers, pumps, gel materials — all come from different parts of the world and are also put together into finished products across the globe,” continued Pitts, whom Modern Healthcare Magazine named as one of the 300 most powerful people in American healthcare. “That means that shipping restrictions, worker quarantines, and vaster increased demand all lead to shortages.”

Since there’s a shortage of disinfectants and hand sanitizers, is there another recourse?

While natural sanitizer companies are producing germ-fighting cleaning items that are useful in many cases, their products don’t contain enough alcohol to thwart COVID-19 transmission. At least 60 percent of alcohol needs to make up the ingredient list to be effective, per the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

Hence, we need to help companies such as Purell increase production and encourage larger consumer health products businesses such as Proctor and Gamble to do the same.

That will require increased production of raw materials, containers, and other materials used in making hand sanitizer here at home. 

Meanwhile, Pitts said that washing your hands with soap and warm water — in accordance with CDC guidelines — often while rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 

If you choose to exercise, he said “Masks should be worn while you are exercising. Please strive to exercise either at home or in isolation — not in a social environment.

cloth-face-cover
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth mask while exercising outdoors or in public.

But if you are exercising outdoors, Pitts strongly advised to “Stay twice the recommended six feet away since you are breathing harder — which means your breath is traveling twice as far. Also, be careful with sweat as it can also transmit disease.” 

Lastly, he noted, absurd as it may have sounded even two weeks ago, the public needs a wartime effort to expand production of hand sanitizers to slow the pandemic and provide Americans with a sense of security needed to restore life to what it was before the coronavirus outbreak.

For more information on COVID-19, log onto the CDC’s website.

— Jerry Del Priore 

 

 

 

 

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