Coffee Chat: A few words from a Chemist about COVID-19

Hello my lovelies,

Another coffee chat, quite an imporant one so grab a coffee and let’s get to it!

I hope you are well, staying home and keeping safe. What a time this is, we will remeber this for the rest of our lifes!

Sadly, this is not the first time an outbreak of a disease happened and I’m not talking about the Spanish flu. There have been others, in your life time, that you might not have heard about because they were cought and stoped a bit earlier than COVID-19. Nevertheless, the point I’m trying to make here is that sadly this has happened before and if we know anything about history is that it will happen again unless we eliminate all the reasons that lead to it. I won’t get into those in this post but I do believe that there should be criminal consequences for certain people!

Anyhow let’s get into some fast science facts about COVID-19 that you should know.

  • This disease does not affect people of specific age. I’ve seen many young people in their 20s and 30s running around as if they are immortal. YOU ARE NOT! There already have been deaths of even children and NO they didn’t have pre-existing conditions, they were perfectly normal and healthy. Sure, the majority of the deaths will be from the older or immuno-compromised patients because their immune system is weaker, but that doesn’t mean you are off the hook. Why risk it?!


  • It’s not just about you getting ill. Ok say you are young and healthy and you statistically expect that the disease won’t be that bad. It’s not just about you!!! This disease is contagious, you can infect on average another 3 people (or more!) and one of those could be old or immuno-compromised (cancer patients for example or even people who just had a simple cold, your immune system might be…tired!) and they might die. This is the same type of selfishness that anti-vaxxers show when they say that it’s their body and their choice. Sure it is your body but if you live in a society you have to be part of the collective and think of everyone else around you too. It’s not about you, you have the right to die if you want, it’s about all the other people you will infect that had no choice and no good immune system to fight. If you want to be selfish then please go live on a mountain on your own or something. And stop using hospitals because that’s a society resource too, you can’t have it all.


  • Soap and alcohol kill viruses – That is generally true but be mindful of the details. COVID-19 to be specific has a fatty layer on the outside which soap (=surfactants) can dissolve and therefore, destroy the structure of the virus. Alcohol also works but it’s not the stronger the better! In fact, 70% alcohol is much better than let’s say 90% because you need the mixture to contain some water too in order to destroy the virus. Water helps destroy the proteins of the virus and therefore, changes it’s abilities to act. Moreover, too much alcohol like 90% can destroy proteins so fast that it can almost create a protective barrier around the virus. I will spare you the mechanistic details as this post is getting long but also bear in mind that anything below 50% is also not as efficient. So, 60-70% alcohol!


  • Wash your hands for 20+ seconds – Always wash your hands when you go home not just in this pandemic, in general this is an easy way to avoid getting colds etc. You don’t have to time yourself, the reason why the advice is 20s or longer is to emphasise that it takes a moment for soap to work so don’t just quickly wash.
Many thanks to slavoljubovski for this image.


  • Anti-bacterial agents might not work – Well, this is a hard one to answer. The truth is we don’t have enough scientific information to know if certain anti-bacterial agents would work against COVID-19, also remember COVID is a virus not a bacterium. But it’s worth using anti-bacterial wipes anyways because (a) you still need to clean your house from the rest of the organisms that could infect you and (b) anti-bacterial wipes often contain alcohol which can kill viruses. If you can’t find anti-bacterial wipes, window cleaning wipes also contain alcohol although I don’t think it’s in the levels we’d want (read the label).


  • Take care of your skin – Our skin is our shield against the world. When our skin barrier is weakened we risk all sorts of organisms entering our bodies. Take care of your entire body skin, not just your face! And also don’t overwash your hands or use alcohol too much, it can damage your skin and lead to other problems!


  • COVID-19 is airbone? – Keep a 2 meter distance – Well yes but not exactly, don’t panic! What this means is that if someone caughs, talks or sneezes you can find little droplets that you can’t see with the virus in the air for up to 3 hours or so, depending on the air flow conditions (so if you are walking outside prefer large open air flow spaces). This is why it is recommened to keep a 1.5-2 meter distance from others that you don’t live with. Even if others don’t appear ill they can still carry the virus! The ones you do live with, well let’s be honest, if someone in your house gets infected you probably all will. This is also why it is extra important to be careful, even if you are young, you might infect someone else in your house! Take this as a strength though, if you live with someone else then pick turns to go shopping or have a designated shopper, don’t expose everyone if you don’t have to. The less people go out, the less chance to get it. As simple as that.


  • You can have the virus without being ill – Don’t think that it’s safe to be around older or immuno-compromised people just because you are fine. You can have the virus AND be infectious without showing any symptoms. This is one of the reasons why this virus has been so hard to contain and it infected so many people so fast. Just don’t take the risk, it’s not worth it!


  • COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days – So does that mean you should wash your shopping? Well you can soap wash your shopping if you really want to but it’s worth noting that the biggest risk of getting the virus will be from contact with others, not from items, unless someone literally directly coughed on something, you touched it and then put your hands in your mouth! I washed my shopping a few weeks back because I had a chest infections and wanted to take every pre-caution knowing that my immune system and lungs were not at their best in that moment, so it might give you a sense of calm and control, especially if someone in your household is immuno-compromised. I don’t wash my shopping anymore because I am healthy now so just use your common sense and read the situation.


  • You can get COVID-19 from food? – Well yes contaminated food is possible BUT not if it’s cooked after it’s been contaminated. So anything you heat will be safe because viruses cannot live long at high heat. But salads and anything you eat raw might be an issue, soap wash the vegetables well.


  • You do not need to hoard food or toiler roll! – Please just stop with this one. If you really want to stock pile a bit then do so for a supply of 14 days, which is the maximum amount of time you will have to self-isolate if you get the disease. Beyond that, it’s just silly and it makes other people’s life hard. So many older people or those who are working like medics and scientists are having a hard time finding any food at all. Don’t be selfish, there is enough food to go around if you stop buying so much. Plus let’s be honest, you are not going to eat it all and it will go to waste. If nothing else, don’t waste your money, we are in a financial crisis!


  • Keep exercising and eating healthy – Ok let’s be honest, even a fitness junkie like me gained a bit of fat from staying home all day and not moving much. It is almost inevitable so be mindful and try extra hard to throw in as much exrecise as you can. If you don’t have space to exercise at all, put your headphones on and dance! Also be mindful that the more you are home and bored, the more you will eat…out of boredom. Plus, eat balanced meals with protein, vegetables and carbohydrates. Let me make this very clear. If you don’t eat enough protein with every meal your immune system will be weaker. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates with every meal, your immune system will be weaker. If you don’t eat enough vegetables with every meal, your immune system will be weaker. Stop with the salads, the soups and the canned food. Add protein and carbohydrates and vegetables too!


  • Sleep well and don’t drink – Both of these affect your immune system.  If  you don’t sleep you run the risk of getting ill easier in general plus sugar cravings are linked to not sleeping well too! Drinking alcohol also lowers your immune system and NO you cannot stay healthy because you are drinking alcohol, that’s not how you kill the virus.


  • Wearing a mask and gloves likely won’t help you – In general, personal protective equipment (also known as PPE) are very important, that’s why scientists and doctors wear them daily. However, if you don’t know how to use them properly then they won’t help. I say this because I see so many people on the street wearing gloves and holding ther phones or driving their car. Are you going to decontaminate your phone when you go home? Or clean your car? If not then next time you touch them you can get infected and so gloves wouldn’t have helped you. So if you do want to wear gloves then use them correctly. Do not touch anything else with them and if you do wash it after. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE or things that will touch your face like your phone. And make sure you remove your gloves and mask correctly.

Here’s a few pictures showing the correct way to remove gloves without contaminating your hands – Note: I am using food gloves in the pictures because I didn’t want to waste other gloves, supplies are low. This doesn’t make a difference on the technique of taking them off though:

1. Push your palm towards the back of your hand, against your bone to create a little gap where the glove is not touching you.


2. Put a finger inside that gap without touching your hand and pull the glove inside out.


3. It is then safe to touch the glove because the now outside area is the clean one and the contaminated is inside. Throw it away, do not re-use gloves. If you use cloth gloves (a) you might not be getting any protection at all because they are not solid material, there will be small holes or pores but if you must wear those (b) wash them with hot soapy water.



Then remove your mask without allowing the outside part touch yourself by pulling it away from you from the edge. Masks are in high shortage here so I couldn’t find one to illustrate this. Also bear in mind that surgical masks are not air tight which means that they are not fully protective anyways and that you can get virus particles from someone caughing for example, through your eyes! The one useful thing that masks can provide though is catching saliva when people speak or caugh but you can also keep your distance.


  • Use this opportunity to do new things – There is always a positive in every negative! All those movies you wanted to watch, the books you wanted to read, that hobby you never started. What a great time for this now! See this as an opportunity to grow, you likely won’t get another chance like this in your lifetime!


  • Scientists and engineers also need a clap – While I really commend all the medics, nurses, doctors, paramedics and everyone who works at hospitals let’s not forget about all the other people who are doing their part in this crisis. All the delivery drivers, the grocery shops, the teachers, the volunteers, the scientists working hard to do tests and find drugs and vaccines, the engineers trying to invent new ventilator solutions (my partner!) and even all the people who are staying home to do their bit of not spreading the disease. That’s the beauty of a society, everyone has a part to play so next time you clap for the medics, clap for everyone else too.


  • It’s not the end of the world – As I said at the begining of this post, this has happened before and it will likely happen again. However, scientists and goverments are hopefully learning from this experience and moving forward better prepared next time. This too shall pass, just ride it out.


Keep safe, wash your hands, find the positives, take on a new hobby and we will be back to normal soon.

Lots of love,

Bonds of Beauty


I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences unless cited with a relevant reference.

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2 responses to Coffee Chat: A few words from a Chemist about COVID-19

  1. Noreen says:

    What a great post, everything you need to know in one post. I agree with most of your mentions here. Thanks for sharing, stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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