There is no doubt that alcohol based hand sanitizers have revolutionized hand hygiene in the hospital. These products, however, have their limitations.
Here is an article published in the Journal of Hospital Infection assessing the efficacy of alcohol based hand sanitizers againts Human enterovirus 71 (HEV71) infections.
A common alcohol-based hand disinfectant (0.5% chlorhexidine gluconate + 70% isopropanol) as well as different concentrations of isopropanol and ethanol were tested for virucidal activity against HEV71.
The findings? Widely used alcohol-based hand disinfectants based on 70% ethanol or isopropanol have poor effectiveness against HEV71. Even 95% ethanol did not fully inactivate HEV71.
For cluster or outbreaks of enteroviral infections, hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand disinfectants is not sufficient to prevent transmission.
In this setting, we are back to medicated soap and water to physically remove viral particles from hands.