A colleague recently travelled with BA from Heathrow and upon entering the plane was greeted by the flight crew with: “Anti-bacterial wipe sir?”. He smiled under his mask and said “I thought the problem was a virus?”
A bit smug, yes, but this highlights an important issue – many people seem to be ignoring the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is a virus.
To be fair to BA, the packet provided a towel and a gel that both contained over 70% alcohol, so both would be effective against Coronaviruses. However, to be told that it’s ‘anti-bacterial’ and for the sachet to say ‘antibacterial’ simply perpetuates the notion that viruses can be killed with anti-bacterial products.
In general, BA are to be applauded for their new procedures. Strict measures were in place – the flight crew and passengers wore masks at all times, except when eating and drinking. Disembarkation, was conducted in small groups and the transfer buses were only partly filled.
The only questionable measure was the choice of hand sanitiser. OK, we obviously believe that stabilised hypochlorous acid would be a much better option, but our opinion is based on the science. Nemesis eH2O is more effective than alcohol on a wider range of pathogens; it is non-flammable and does not contain any hazardous chemicals. In contrast the BA sachet warns: “Flammable… in case of eye contact immediately flush eyes with water and call your doctor. Do not apply to broken skin. Stop use and contact your doctor if soreness or irritation develops. Keep out of reach of children.” instructions that would be a little tricky to follow at 30,000 ft with the seatbelt sign on.
After use, the alcohol in the BA gel evaporated quickly and there was no sticky residue, such as that which is produced by some other gels.
Fortunately, my colleague had taken a 65ml pocket sized bottle of Nemesis eH2O on the flight so he was able to disinfect his face & hands, and those of his wife and children, as well as his mobile phone, laptop, tray table and all other touch points.
In summary, these are extremely difficult times for the aviation industry and they are to be applauded for the measures they are taking, but it might be sensible to reconsider the decision to load every flight with highly flammable anti-bac products, when hypochlorous acid would do a much better job.
In related news, a study of a flight to China with 16 infected passengers revealed that only one passenger became infected during the flight. Further research will be necessary, but this is encouraging news for air passengers. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08njrwg