A pandemic year without germs

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The concern among some microbiologists, for the last decade or so, has been that the collateral damage of excessive sanitizing and use of antibiotics is not good. Photo: Pexels


(James Hamblin/ The Atlantic) — Sales of alcohol surged in 2020, especially among the higher-proof varieties. But one type far outsold the others: hand sanitizer.In the heat of the pandemic, Purell poured some $400 million into expanding its production.

As anyone who resorted to bootleg hand sanitizer knows, the company came nowhere close to meeting demand. Distilleries and state governments also got in on the action; New York State’s version was, as best as I could discern, a mixture of urinal cakes and bottom-shelf vodka. (I was grateful for it.)

All told, by the end of 2020, sales of hand sanitizer had increased by 600 percent.Some of this sanitizer is presumably still sitting untouched in people’s pandemic pantry stockpiles. But much of it also went onto our skin, where the alcohol hastily dissolves most of the viruses, bacteria, and fungi it encounters. (…)

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