Maintaining good hygiene saves lives

It’s important to get the right sanitiser that is suitable to oneself as some people may have allergies to chemicals or ingredients used in a hand sanitiser

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by BERNAMA

NOW that wearing face masks in crowded public places has been made mandatory by the government along with aggressive campaigns for people to stay clean, sales of personal protective items are expected to hit the roof.

In the earlier days of the pandemic prior to the Movement Control Order (MCO), panic-buying in supermarkets and convenience stores had resulted in shortage of face masks and various forms of sanitisers.

Never before were there long queues at the check-out counters in every row and shopping carts piled-up like mountains! Certain stores had to limit the amount of hand sanitisers and masks that were sold to customers.

You couldn’t even escape the problem online. Sanitisers and masks sold on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon.com Inc and Lazada Malaysia were either out of stock or available at inflated prices.

In some cases, online retailers hiked up the prices by almost 70%. Some opportunists would take advantage of this situation by keeping hand sanitiser stocks away from the market so that they could make an extra profit.

The shortage of hand sanitisers also prompted people to produce their own, which might not necessarily be as effective as the commercial brands.

The problem was not exclusive to Malaysia, everyone all over the world scrambled to protect themselves.

The global supply chain of hygiene products has faced disruptions due to a surge in market demand.

Manufacturing facilities jumped into overdrive, while related companies were adding overtime and shifts.

Keeping Medical Frontliners Safe and Protected

While Covid-19 in Malaysia is considered to be well under control, the same could not be said for many other countries including the more advanced nations, which still translates to insufficient sanitisers and face masks along with other personal protective equipment.

Among the suppliers is local medical grade sanitisers and disinfectants manufacturer Perfect Lifes Sdn Bhd, a company that is now certainly well-positioned to meet the market needs.

Perfect Lifes, a company that has managed to establish a strong footing in the health services industry, is not a new name in its field as it was among the first to help manage earlier crises including the SARS outbreak between 2002 and 2004.

At its peak, SARS infected more than 8,000 people, while 700 people had died in 29 countries.

Malaysia only recorded five cases and just two deaths. Efforts were then focused on early case detection, screening activities, contact surveillance and isolation in designated SARS hospitals.

“If anything, we are prepared to face such a crisis. We’ve made sure that we stock up and we now have nine to twelve months worth of raw materials,” Perfect Lifes founder Dean Liew said.

The main raw material is imported from the US, while the rest are locally sourced. However, Liew’s team did face some challenges earlier particularly in ensuring an adequate amount of mist sprays, which are obtained from overseas.

“Our sanitisers and disinfectants uses mist spray to ensure an even spread of disinfectant on surfaces. Luckily we managed to restock them in time as we have a good relationship with our suppliers,” he said.

In order to fill the demands, Liew’s staff had to work overtime and they had to hire part-timers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also pushed Perfect Lifes to increase its production capacity up to three times more compared to last year.

Non-alcohol Based Sanitisers

Local medical grade sanitisers and disinfectants manufacturer Perfect Lifes is well-positioned to meet the market needs (pic credit: perfectlifes.com)

Consumers have a choice between alcohol-based and alcohol-free sanitisers. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers vary in amounts and types of alcohol. It would usually contain between 60% and 95% alcohol.

The alcohols frequently used in these types of sanitisers are isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol.

Alcohol is able to effectively eliminate many types of bacteria and they are also capable of killing many viruses such as influenza A, rhinovirus, hepatitis A, HIV and MERS-CoV.

On the other hand, alcohol-free hand sanitisers contain quaternary ammonium compounds (usually benzalkonium chloride) which reduce microbes.

Unfortunately, they are less effective compared to alcohol-based sanitisers.

Most hospitals and healthcare centres use alcohol-based sanitisers due to their effectiveness in killing germs.

“As most hospitals use alcohol-based sanitisers, there were some problems in the beginning, but since manufacturers have all amped up their production, the supply has stabilised now,” Liew said.

Since Perfect Lifes’ sanitisers aren’t alcohol-based, the company did not face any issue in securing the raw material.

“We use silver dihydrogen citrate, an ingredient that has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has been proven to be able to eliminate up to 99.999% (5-log kill rate) of viruses, bacteria and fungi, inclu

ding SARS-CoV-2,” Liew added. The company has so far managed to secure a good number of orders from hospitals and clinics, including from one of its long-time partner, Horeb Medical Group. Some of the products are also donated to Putrajaya Hospital.

A Silver Lining

While many businesses have been severely affected by the pandemic, Perfect Lifes is among companies that are flourishing.

According to a report by Fior Markets, the international hand sanitiser market is expected to grow from US$1.2 billion (RM5.09 billion) to US$2.14 billion by 2027.

Due to Covid-19, the demand for hand sanitisers has increased by 1,400% from the period of December 2019 to February 2020.

Encouraged by the market sentiment, Liew and his team are hatching out plans to launch more new products.

“We are also expecting an increase in sales as we are now present in more physical outlets,” he said.

Good Hygiene Saves Lives

The number of brands that sell sanitisers is just astounding. While big brands like Dettol continue to dominate, other lesser-known, smaller brands are now joining the fray.

A teacher demonstrating to her pupils how to sanitise their hands. For alcohol-based sanitisers, consumers need to buy products that have at least 75% alcohol content. (pic by BERNAMA)

“It’s important to get the right sanitiser that is suitable for you as some people may have allergies to chemicals or ingredients used in a hand sanitiser,” Liew said.

He said consumers should be aware of the active ingredients used in each bottle, whether its alcohol in the form of isopropyl alcohol, or ethanol, or benzalkonium chloride, or silver dihydrogen citrate.

Liew said for alcohol-based sanitisers, consumers need to buy products that have at least 75% alcohol content.

“You should also always look for sanitisers manufactured by an established brand and company, check the expiry date and make sure that it’s registered by the Ministry of Health or EPA registered. Most importantly, the hand sanitiser must really fully meet your requirement and purpose of buying it.”

Perfect Lifes is in the middle of working on community projects that could educate consumers on how to keep their surroundings safer.

For more updates about Perfect Lifes, you can check out their website at https://perfectlifes.com/.