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How soap fights COVID-19: Brunel prof's video garners worldwide attention

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In the past few weeks, the humble bar of soap has found itself on the frontline against the most serious pandemic in decades.

The advice from public health officials is simple – one of the most effective means of slowing the spread of the virus is to ensure good hygiene and wash your hands regularly with soap and water, for the length of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ twice.  

But why is soap so effective?

In an effort to explain the science behind it, Brunel’s Visiting Professor of Engineering: Creativity and Communication, Prof Lucy Rogers, uploaded a short clip to video sharing platform TikTok in which she used pepper, oil, water and soap to demonstrate how the fats holding a virus together can be broken apart.

The video has since been used by parents to show their children why washing their hands is so important.

“Soap is such an ordinary, everyday thing. Does it really work on viruses?” asks Prof Rogers in the video, which has been viewed over 1.3 million times since it was first uploaded and republished by the likes of BBC Breakfast and MailOnline.

“Well, the answer is most definitely yes.”

The coronavirus COVID-19 is held together by an outer layer made of fat. When this fat comes into contact with soap – or a detergent such as Fairy Liquid – it breaks the virus apart, rendering it harmless.

For further information on how Brunel is tackling coronavirus COVID-19, please visit the Coronavirus Portal.

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