Killing bird flu with hand gel

London, September 11 :

As the world health organisations confirms two new deaths from bird flu in Indonesia, a small London-based quoted company claims to have developed a hand gel that kills the H5N1 virus within 30 seconds.

DermaSalve Sciences, which makes products for dry skin sufferers, says the gel designed for the prevention of the disease among health workers, consumers and agricultural workers - remains active for 30 minutes after it is applied.

Dr Mark Randle, chief executive of DermaSalve, said the company would begin manufacturing the product next month, with a view to be selling it by the end of the year.

He said, “We’re in commercial discussions with various parties to sell the gel on a large scale in areas where it is needed.’’ He would not name the companies the group is talking to. Industry experts warned that it may not be the only product available. Dr Randle admitted there were soaps, sprays and other gels that claimed to kill all germs.

“There’s lot of things out there,’’ he said, “but they haven’t been specifically tested for a certain type of bacteria or virus.’’

Analysts also questioned whether consumers in countries such as Britain, where bird flu is not prevalent, would buy the product unless there was a pandemic. One expert pointed out that no one knew what specific strain of bird flu could cause a pandemic, suggesting it may not be the H5N1 variant, which would make the gel useless.