Dr Irina Metzler

Why Hand Sanitisers do More Harm Than Good

by Dr Irina Metzler, FRHistS  Hand sanitisers, or hand satanizers as I prefer to dyslexise, are as ubiquitous a part of the pandemic as the masks. Unlike the masks, which will cause mainly individual problems (if you wear a mask, you’re restricting your own breathing, not someone else’s), hand sanitiser use at the level we’ve been seeing for the past 10 months is going to become one helluva headache in the none too distant future. That’s because apart from destroying your own, personal microbiome we’ve got a bigger picture to consider. Antimicrobial resistance across the board had been getting worse already before the pandemic hit. Already in 2018 it was noted that alcohol-based hand sanitisers in particular were turning bacteria into the next level of ‘superbug’, namely VRE (vancomycin resistant enterococci), one of the leading causes of infections in hospitals. “We have to be careful about this new trend towards heavy reliance on alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Soap and water should be our number-one protection” – both in hospitals and for personal use. The next question is whether the bacteria will continue to evolve and tolerate higher and higher doses of alcohol – or even stop responding entirely. “Is it possible for these organisms to develop complete resistance to alcohol?” These questions were also raised by researchers years before the advent...

Covid, Hyper-Medicalisation and Virus Interference

By Dr Irina Metzler, FRHistS One of the puzzles in the Covid story is how different the effect of SARS-CoV-2 can be from person to person. If we accept the notion of ‘asymptomatic transmission’, then Covid is inconsequential for such a large number of apparently infected people that they notice no symptoms whatsoever, while others have symptoms so mild they are comparable to the common cold, yet a minority of infected people suffer very severe reactions and unfortunately sometimes lethal outcomes. This very wide variance in how individuals’ bodies react to the virus makes COVID-19 a most unusual illness. What follows are some speculative musings on potential factors influencing individual variance, in other words, asking the question: Have we missed something that could explain why some people fall very ill and even die, yet others don’t even know they’ve got it? Besides individual disparity in reactions to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there is of course the disparity in how regional variation affects mortality and severe illness. Contrary to most beliefs in an efficient health care system (including preventative care, hygiene, nutrition, immunisation programmes), whereby there should be less illness in those nations that have better and more accessible healthcare provisions, Covid actually seems to be less of a threat to poorer, economically weaker nations which had a lower case fatality rate...

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June 2022
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