Lifebuoy’s liquid hand wash and alcohol-based hand sanitiser become the first soap brand to be recognised as over 99.9 per cent effective against Coronavirus after a test was conducted by internationally-accredited Microbac Laboratories. However, it has to be noted that the effectiveness of most hand hygiene products will be as high as Lifebuoy. Samir Singh, Global EVP, Skin Cleansing at Unilever, in an email interaction tells Jescilia Karayamparambil, the importance of the recognition and the increase in production in Lifebuoy products due to COVID.

Edited Excerpts:

How will this recognition through the test help the brand?

The announcement of these test results is an important step. Firstly, it provides additional reassurance that the products tested are effective against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic) and that people can trust our products to work effectively. Secondly, it supports the broad message that the WHO and public health authorities around the world have been communicating -- washing our hands with soap and water and using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and others, from the virus.

How has the sanitiser business been growing?

Clearly, demand for soaps and hand sanitisers have gone up in recent weeks and months. People appreciate that soap delivers and can potentially protect them from germs of all kinds. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have worked hard to increase production and make more of our Lifebuoy products available to our customers. For example, the global production of Lifebuoy hand wash has increased from 10 million units per month in 2019 to around 30 million units now. That is an increase of over 3 times and is the equivalent of 684 bottles of hand wash per minute. We have managed to shift production to focus on these core products and we have even built new factories to ensure that our products are made available to those who need them.

There was a report by Unilever that suggested that there has been lower personal grooming among people during the lockdown. Did you see that impact in skin cleaning business?

What we have seen is a large increase in demand for the products that can help keep people safe and reduce the spread of germs, including soap and hand sanitisers.

What is the strategy in place post Coronavirus?

Our work is to ensure that people have the right habits around handwashing and personal hygiene. Since January, we have made public service announcements across the region and in India to ensure people understand the importance of regular handwashing with soap and water; and sanitising. When people do venture outside once again, they may well be a little nervous. Ensuring they, and those around them, wash their hands regularly is one of the most important things people can do. Washing our hands has, perhaps, never been more important and that fact is not going away any time soon.

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