FDA lists 378 hand sanitizers not to use as COVID resurfaces in China

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When COVID-19 started spreading around the world in 2020, doctors and health specialists strongly recommended using hand sanitizer as a way to fight the virus. Shortly afterward, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a list of nine hand sanitizers to avoid. That list quickly grew to a few hundred.

With China having a resurgence of COVID infecting its population, the FDA is advising consumers not to use 378 different hand sanitizers. Most sanitizers are produced in Mexico, while others are produced in the United States, China, and many countries around the world.

Bottles of hand sanitizer are on sale at a pharmacy on December 31, 2020 in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The FDA has listed 378 different hand sanitizers that it recommends avoiding.
Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

There are several reasons why hand sanitizers are being recalled, including: they contain methanol, 1-propanol, benzene, acetaldehyde or acetal; is labeled to contain methanol; it has been found to have microbial contamination; it is being recalled by the manufacturer or distributor.

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Other factors may play a role in recalls, such as not having the required amount of ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or benzalkonium chloride. Some products are made in the same facility as other products containing toxic products and others may be packaged in a container similar to a food or beverage container posing a risk of accidental ingestion.

Some of the products produced in China have Disney and other popular labels, including:

  • Disney Mickey Mouse hand sanitizer
  • Disney Princess hand sanitizer
  • Disney Frozen II hand sanitizer
  • Marvel Spiderman hand sanitizer
  • Star Wars Mandalorian Hand Sanitizer, (Green and Blue Gel Formulas)
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The FDA has a full list here.

“Consumers exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol require immediate treatment, which is critical to potentially reversing the toxic effects of methanol poisoning,” the FDA said. “Significant exposure to methanol can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.”

The FDA advised residents in 2020 to follow guidelines to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, especially after eating, going to the bathroom, and coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

The FDA also recommended using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

“The FDA remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers,” the FDA said. “In addition, the agency is concerned about false and misleading claims for hand sanitizers, for example that they can provide long-term protection, such as 24-hour protection, against viruses, including COVID-19, as there is no evidence to support these claims.”

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China has already seen a spike in COVID-19 deaths in the past month, according to Reuters. That report states that there were nearly 60,000 hospital deaths from Dec. 8 to Jan. 12. Most of the dead were seniors aged 75 or older.

There have been more than 673 million COVID cases reported and more than 6.74 million deaths worldwide since the virus was first discovered in late 2019. The United States has led the world in infections (103 million) and deaths (1.1 million), far ahead of any other country, since it became a global pandemic in 2020.

China, in particular, has seen an increase in both infections and deaths in recent months.

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