The Lincoln university academic said using these gels excessively would allow other bacteria that live on our hands to learn to survive despite this protection. It could lead to an "Armageddon situation," said Kemp, if superbugs that are already resistant to antibiotics could survive alcohol.
It would be better if people washed their hands with soap and water rather than loads of disinfectants to use. Furthermore, Dr. Kemp said that even the most effective disinfectant cannot destroy every single bacterium on our skin, which is why "many hand gels claim to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria" is misleading.
Kemp reported hand hygiene was a key factor to combat COVID-19 contagion, and so washing your hands frequently is the safest way to accomplish that.
However, the use of the most powerful sanitizers does not guarantee every single bug existing on the surface would be killed; in fact, it could lead to more problems.
Alcohol could lose its power against germs that learnt to adapt; thus they would become stronger and more harmful.
"Recent research shows that the surviving bacteria that are not killed by alcohol gels are themselves highly dangerous pathogens and can increase in number. This means that our routine use of gels can ultimately do us more harm than good," emphasizes Dr. Kemp.
It is believed the research carried out by Dr. Kemp, published in the American Journal of Biomedical Science and Research and expected to be presented at leading conference on superbugs, would alert public health officials who have been, and still are, motivating people to use gels.
"I am not aware of any hand sanitizer that has been tested against all types of bacteria. What it actually means is that they kill 99.9 percent of the types of bacteria they were tested against.
Currently there is no evidence that alcohol gels effectively kill COVID-19" said the expert.
“Even if they did kill 99.9 percent of all bugs, there can be more than a million bacteria on your hands at any one time leaving 10,000 alive after sanitization. These will be in a residue of sugar and protein, in which some species of bacteria can thrive on."
Nonetheless, what alcohol gels should used for is as an alternative to washing one's hands if this means isn't available in the moment. “Hand gels should only be used as a last resort and as a short-term temporary measure or stop gap if soap and water are not available," he noted.
Dr. Kemp added this wrong way of using sanitizers that lead to the resistance of the virus is counterproductive to the ongoing research on an antidote. "It seems pointless spending billions on antibiotics, if the resistance to them comes from poor use of chemical disinfectants and hand sanitizers,” he said.