An ad has been doing the rounds that disinfectant Lysol has a 99.9 per cent success rate in killing the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Below the ad, is a small disclaimer that states that that an undiluted version of the disinfectant when treated on hard, flat, non-porous surfaces will achieve this claim.
While Lysol has been aggressively marketing its product, much like other disinfectants that also claim a high success rate, is 99.9 per cent really true? A report by the Wall Street Journal revealed that since there are no government regulations on the type of bacteria and virus is killed by germ cleaners, most companies set up ideal conditions in a laboratory and knock off the easiest germs to kill. While the novel coronavirus may not be that easy to kill, the laboratory conditions may have been the ideal set up that was fatal for COVID-19.
According to Nyco Products Company, a US-based cleaning service provider, a marketing claim of ‘kills 99.9 per cent of germs’ means it may or may not kill the specific variety of bacteria or pathogen you need killed.
A CNN article further says, quoting the US’ Environment Protection Agency, companies can apply for an "emerging pathogens claim" based on previously approved claims for harder-to-kill viruses. The agency reviews them and determines whether the company can safely make that claim, the report added. “Once approved, the company can make off-label claims in the event of outbreaks like the novel coronavirus,” the report added.
In May, a spokesperson from RB, the parent company of Dettol and Lysol issued a clarification. “Our products are effective against other coronaviruses (MERS-CoV and SARSCoV). We haven't had access to the new virus (2019-nCoV) for testing yet, so we are unable to confirm our level of effectiveness against. We are working to ensure we have the latest information on it,” he tweeted.
It will be interesting to see whether this claim is true, given that only recently Patanjali got into trouble for introducing an ayurvedic drug that they claimed cured coronavirus. However, while conducting its lab tests, they did not tell the Ministry of Ayush that they were testing for the novel coronavirus.