15 October is World Handwashing Day, which aims to remind people of the importance of handwashing, which has become even more important in recent pandemic years.

Many people wash their hands incorrectly

This year’s slogan for the day, ‘Our future is in our hands – let’s move forward together’, calls for coordinated action to ensure universal hand hygiene. Washing hands with soap or disinfecting them with special products is one of the most effective ways to protect against various viruses and infections.

According to the Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS, careful hand care can:
  • protect one in three children from diarrhoea and reduce the number of diarrhoeal illnesses by up to 32%, and up to 58% in people with weakened immune systems;
  • protect one in five children from respiratory infections such as pneumonia;
  • reduce the number of respiratory infections in the general population by 16–21%;
  • reduce the number of infections acquired in healthcare settings by 50%.
For those who doubt the benefits of handwashing, it is worth remembering that on average we touch around 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, exposing us to 840,000 germs. Only about 5% of people wash their hands correctly, as most only do it for 6 seconds. Around 33% of people do not use soap when washing their hands.

Scientists in London estimate that if everyone washed and disinfected their hands regularly, a million deaths a year could be prevented.

Demand is reduced

No matter how much we like to wash our hands with soap after every contact with surfaces or contacts, this is not always possible. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of disinfectant. With the onset of the pandemic, its production was also stimulated by the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), whose measure ‘Covid-19 produktai LT’ (Covid-19 products LT) allowed the installation of disinfectant liquid production lines.

MB Filmai ir kvapai, whose aromatherapy line for the family Aromama has already won the hearts of fans, took advantage of the invitation. With the EUR 280,000 in funding, the company invested in a production packaging line and an ISO8 clean room.

‘During the entire period, we bottled two tonnes of disinfectant liquid, or about 40,000 50 ml bottles. We have another tonne of raw material in bulk and we are waiting for customer demand, which has decreased for the time being,’ says Remigijus Velička, Head of Filmai ir kvapai, who notes that the production line is also suitable for bottling other products, and the investment will further accelerate the company’s growth.

We believe that the ‘Covid-19 produktai LT’ (Covid-19 products LT) measure has made a targeted contribution to boosting the production of a wide range of products to fight coronavirus during the country’s most difficult pandemic period,’ says Aurimas Želvys, Head of the LBSA, recalling that EUR 31 m has been allocated to various projects under this measure.

A natural product

UAB Bio Circle Balticum has also signed a contract with the LBSA under the same measure, and received EUR 300,000 in funding to expand production of Covid-19 products. The company, which for the first few months has been producing conventional disinfectants based on ethyl alcohol, has found an alternative – a non-flammable, odourless, hand sanitiser based on hypochlorous acid obtained by a special water activation process.

‘It contains neither chlorine nor sodium, but the same acid that is actually secreted by everyone’s body to fight infections: when we get sick, red blood cells and lymphocytes mobilise against the focus of the infection and, through a series of chemical reactions, it is hypochlorous acid that affects the walls of the virus,’ explains the company’s head of the laboratory, Lukas Žarnauskas.

This measure kills 99.99% of viruses within one minute after exposure, and then decomposes into oxygen and water without accumulating in the environment.

It is used in schools and companies

In the first months, this innovative disinfectant was only intended for surface cleaning, but laboratory tests in Germany have confirmed that it is also ideal for hand disinfection. Bio Circle Balticum does not add dyes or fragrances to the disinfectant, therefore the product is suitable for both children and people with sensitive skin and allergies.

‘We actively cooperate with ambulance stations. Everyone has heard that there was a particular shortage of ambulances during the peak of the coronavirus, and the reason for this was quite simple: they simply could not be disinfected in time. With the usual disinfectant based on ethyl alcohol, this procedure takes up to an hour, while our proposed measure takes 10 minutes,’ says Žarnauskas.

Currently, this disinfectant is supplied to medical, educational and sports institutions, as well as to various companies. It is also available to individuals.

The LBSA support has been used to ensure quality production, both for synthesis and activation, and for quality control, which helps to ensure the right concentration of the product. It is important to stress that hypochlorous acid is deactivated by direct sunlight and is therefore bottled in special containers.

The production line was installed in August last year and to date has produced around 40 tonnes of disinfectant liquid.

‘I would advise washing your hands with ordinary soap or even household soap whenever possible, as it is a natural degreaser, but it is important to remember that it takes 20 seconds to break down the lipid membrane. Of course, since we don't always have the opportunity to do this, because we are travelling, touching buttons and handrails, so it is essential to have a disinfectant, and preferably one that is not harmful to your skin,’ advises Žarnauskas.

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