We’ve been lucky. I know this may sound like an insane thing to say given all that’s happened in the last year. What has been fortunate is that SARS-CoV2, the pathogen that causes Covid19, is fairly easy to kill and the timing on the development of the vaccine surpassed the expectation of many. That said, just as we have the great news that a vaccine is developed and in distribution, we get sucker-punched with the news of pathogen mutations that threaten to spread the virus so much more quickly.
There’s no evidence in the published research to indicate that the vaccines won’t work or that these new strains will cause more severe illness. So that’s more good news. The bad news is evidence suggests the new mutations make it easier for the virus to bind to human cells. The one thing that is certain about the new variants is the speed of spread.
What does this mean for all of us as we battle the spread of the virus? What should we do differently? The truth is we simply need to do more of the same things we were doing before the virus mutations. No matter the variant, wearing a mask, washing hands, and physical distancing from others, especially in crowds, decrease the risk of contamination.
Cleaning and disinfecting with an EPA registered disinfectant is still the way to kill the pathogens. Pre-cleaning is important. Pre-cleaning surfaces before disinfecting removes the biofilms (read hand oils), grime and dirt that would otherwise protect the virus from being reached by the disinfectant. There is no point in spraying a disinfectant when the virus is protected by dirt. Air drying rather than wiping away the disinfectant is also absolutely necessary for the disinfectant to work.
In school, office and restaurant settings hand hygiene is critical. Hand washing for 20 seconds at critical points – for example upon entry, exit and after restroom use. Hand washing is preferable to using a sanitizer. Sanitizers are the go to in areas where the sink is not accessible – building entry and exits. Rinsing toys and food areas after the disinfectant has completely dried, usually 2 to 10 minutes is best practice for homes, schools and restaurant.