How can hand san­i­tiz­ers kill viruses, yet we can’t cure an in­fec­tion?

Asked by @pstni via Twit­ter

Guru Magazine - - Ask A Guru -

Tech­ni­cally, hand san­i­tiz­ers tar­get viri­ons, not viruses. Viri­ons are the form of the virus that ex­ist out­side of our body. They have a spe­cial pro­tec­tive coat that keeps them healthy in the outer world – a naked virus is very del­i­cate. When the virion en­ters the body and un­coats it­self (like peo­ple take off their coat when en­ter­ing your house) then it’s known as a virus. Af­ter un­coat­ing, the virus no longer con­ceals its weapons such as its pro­teins (kind of like knives and guns) and DNA or RNA (sort of like high-tech com­puter weaponry). Us­ing these weapons, it at­tacks and takes over cells in the body, hold­ing them hostage un­til your body’s po­lice force (the im­mune sys­tem) is able to step in and stop it. What a great house­guest, no? So, to an­swer your ques­tion: hand san­i­tiz­ers tar­get the coat of the virion. They cut and shoot holes into the coat. But if the virus has al­ready in­vaded your body (your home), these same chem­i­cals aren’t very use­ful be­cause the virus has al­ready de-robed and made their way in­side your cells. Plus, you couldn’t in­ject a hand san­i­tizer any­way be­cause to­day’s san­i­tiz­ers are made from con­cen­trated al­co­hol that would kill you if put in the blood. But think about it. If an intruder is out­side your home, it’s very easy to ar­rest them or shoot them with­out harm­ing you. But if they have taken you hostage, and are hold­ing you at gun­point so to speak, it’s much harder to ex­tract your­self from the sit­u­a­tion. It’s also very dif­fi­cult to harm the intruder with­out you also get­ting harmed by ac­ci­dent. This is one of the key rea­sons why so many an­tivi­ral medicines taken by mouth are either in­ef­fec­tive or cause many side­ef­fects. So hand san­i­tiz­ers can be use­ful for virus pro­tec­tion but are not de­signed for hostage cri­sis sit­u­a­tions.

An­swered by Artem Chep­rasov

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