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How effective is hand sanitizer in preventing disease? The answer may surprise you. If you've visited a drug store lately, you probably noticed the empty shelves where hand sanitizers normally sit. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it's not surprising that many people are taking extra steps to stay safe, including stocking up on sanitizing sprays, gels and soaps. But are hand sanitizers the best defense against bacteria and viruses like coronavirus and influenza? Companies that market these products (which are sometimes labeled "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial") say yes. But some consumer advocates say no, arguing that they aren't effective and have...

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  Since the outbreak of COVID-19, sales of hand sanitizers have soared. It’s become such a sought-after product that pharmacies and supermarkets have started limiting the number that people can buy at one time. New York state has even announced it will start producing its own hand sanitizer to meet demand. Though hand sanitizers can help reduce our risk of catching certain infections, not all hand sanitizers are equally effective against coronavirus. As with other viral respiratory infections – like the common cold and flu – the novel coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) is mainly spread when virus-laden droplets from a person’s mouth or nose are transferred to other...

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