The global outbreak of coronavirus has prompted a purchasing frenzy of anti-bacterial products, and in Malaysia, some vendors have taken it a step further by offering “halal” hand sanitisers – sans alcohol.
Many of these hand sanitisers are being marketed as halal – permissible in Islam – designed to appeal to Muslim consumers.
Alcohol is not permissible to consume for practicing Muslims and some vendors are offering “alcohol-free” alternatives to hand sanitiser, but experts say they are essentially useless as a deep cleaning agent.
Medical practitioners say alcohol-based products are 60 to 95 percent are more successful at killing bacteria compared to ethanol alcohol.
Other products on offer provide hand sanitisers made of ethanol as an alternative to alcohol.
Here’s the kicker: isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol (ethanol) – both of which can be used to make hand sanitisers – are both chemical compounds classified as alcohol.
And if that isn’t enough to grind some gears, merchants are selling these products at inflated prices, around US$8 (RM35), compared the cheaper ones found in shops.
It must also be noted that while Islam prohibits consuming alchohol, its use for cleaning is generally not.
Alcohol destroys the protein which houses the coronavirus, and so is an important preventative measure in protecting oneself against the virus.
Hand sanitisers must have an alcohol content of at least 60 percent to be effective against the virus.
Needless to say, people online are not impressed.
Neuroscientist and author Dr Sumaiya Shaikh took to Twitter to encourage people not to buy such products.
“Seeing a surge of searched for halal, non-alcoholic hand sanitizers & some online vendors selling them,” she wrote.
“No, it doesn’t get absorbed via the skin; it evaporates. They are not effective. Please stop using religion to market pseudoscience. #COVID19”