Handwashing Insights from COVID-19

David Keen, Director of Pharmaceutical Microbiology for Ecolab Life Sciences, shares his insights about the importance handwashing during this pandemic and how the message is resonating far and wide.

Ecolab | Handwashing Insights from COVID-19

Are there any positive benefits we can think of from the current COVID-19 pandemic? Climate change and air quality are some obvious ones, but what about in our industry? It is gratifying to see both experts in public health, politicians and industry experts such as Ecolab being aligned on the importance of handwashing. Combined with social distancing, this is by far the best chance we have of protecting ourselves from the spread of the virus.

I recently had to visit a public lavatory. For the first time in my life I witnessed men queuing to use the sinks for handwashing. Now if that is not evidence of progress and a message being heard I don’t know what is? If better personal hygiene on a global level is embedded in the psyche, then this will rub off on all forms of business. The Pharmaceutical industry is already complying to stringent hand washing techniques as part of the assurance to manufacture safe products. The techniques for effective hand washing, already rooted in pharmaceutical and NHS public sectors, are now being adopted by the general public in an effort to reduce the impact of this pandemic. There are also learnings being taken from this industry in the practice of good surface disinfection.

From the beginning Ecolab has educated that hand washing is the first line of defence. As a microbiologist I applaud the approach of putting science ahead of profit. While obviously the world has gone mad for alcohol gels, putting the bigger picture first makes me happy to work for Ecolab.

What is gratifying to see is the aligned messaging on the news, from government and even parts (not all) of social media. As a microbiologist working in the industry it is positive to see politicians, healthcare professionals, industry experts and beyond are aligned with the same message. Handwashing first and foremost! If you can’t do this, then look to use an alcohol hand sanitizer. I have even seen Ecolab training pictograms for correct handwashing on international news channels. If this is not helping improve handwashing, I don’t know what is.

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David is a pharmaceutical microbiologist who has worked across the pharmaceutical industry including in primary and secondary manufacturing, both sterile and non-sterile dose forms, for FMCG, CMO and clinical trial manufacturing.

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