Probably the freshest topic off the bake these days. The virus that captivates all attention every passing day, with an accelerating number of infected and causalities, seemingly not dying off anytime soon.
While millions of dollars are poised to be injected into the research of a possible cure, a simple and insignificant solution of soap and water seems all like an unlikely candidate. But I am sure by now, you would have at the least seen an article or two that supports this simple act of washing as an effective deterrent against the spread of this raging virus.
A quick introduction: viruses of the day are often made up of RNA, lipids and proteins. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, are the genetic material of an organism. Proteins are the vital assistants in entry-breaking into healthy cells. Lastly, lipids are the protective coating layer of fat around the others. Interestingly, there is no absolute hold or strong bonds that binds the 3 components together, which is key to why there is no need for harsh or concentrated chemicals to break them up. The weakest link that allows this to happen lies with the lipids, as in a straight fight with a mixture of soap and water, it would always fail miserably.
The RNA works exactly like how a computer virus does. It infects normal cells and forces them to multiply in the form of the 3 core components of the virus. As the proteins assist in the invasion of the healthy cells, lipids will follow up to form a fatty membrane all over that gives protection to the core. As the infected cell dies, the further expulsion act of the building blocks to the virus repeats itself and extends all across to the neighboring healthy cells as a massive Genghis khan-like invasion ensues.
Besides the advice of regular washing with soap and water, have you ever wondered why face mask is strongly encouraged in the fight against the Covid-19 virus? Quick answer would be the virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets. This means coughing, sneezing or even talking at close range could possibly risk infection from a person to another. And this is a strong reason why washing of hands with soap and water is constantly being advocated.
Studies have shown that the virus remains active for a period of time, even when exposed to the naked environment, when they land on inanimate surfaces. This gets transferred unknowingly to our hands when we touch them. Surface of inanimate objects could be anything from a button to the lift in your office building, a commonly used computer keyboard or even a simple TV remote controller.
As though things were not complicated enough, human skin is an effective and super carrier that allows a good grip for viruses when our bare skin comes into contact with the afflicted surfaces. The fats and proteins of the dead skin cells are the main components that interacts well with compounds of viruses and hence the ability to form a strong cling-on effect.
Compounded with the natural ability of human beings in being able to touch their faces anywhere at least once in a span of every 2-5 mins, the virus is inching ever closer to the human part with the most number of opened cavities. NOW, an infection should occur ANYTIME, just like how a casino beats a gambler, over something that is of the utmost essence, TIME.
What can we do then? Well, we should do our due diligence in following the stipulated laws set by our ruling establishments to wear a mask; keep safe distancing where ever we are at public places. We should heed advice to avoid travelling unnecessarily, especially to places that could be crowded or a potential bedrock for viral transmission, hospital or airports etc. Engaging home cleaning services or having a regular clean-up of your surroundings, be it your residence or office work stations must be strongly encouraged too, to clear up any surface-residing virus that may be naked to a human eye.
Now to the million dollar question. How does a simple washing of our hands with soap and water sucker-punches the virus to its knees? Well, in a simple answer, the fatty substance structure of the soap, or also known as the Amphiphiles, is very similar to those of the lipids within the virus composition. When soap and water comes into direct contact with the virus, there is a competition between these 2 variants, with which the former WILL easily dislodge the latter (from its original viral composition) hence loosening and breaking up the already flimsy hold that is within and destroy the virus instantaneously!