Price hikes of sanitizing gel throws perverse incentives of neoliberalism into sharp relief


Demand for hand sanitizer is surging around the globe as the new coronavirus spreads, prompting retailers to ration supplies and online vendors, despicably, to hike prices. Many high street shops and pharmacies have no stocks left at all.

There are also price hikes on antibacterial hand wash.

The surge in demand has prompted some third-party sellers to inflate their prices on platforms including Amazon and eBay.  In the UK, a Defendol hand gel retailing at £3.49 ($4.46) in stores is being sold for £109.99 on Amazon. 

Neoliberal economies, based on a ‘competitive market place’ model definitely create inequality and ensure the survival of the wealthiest, apparently. Essential goods and services are provided on the sole basis of profit, rather than on human need.

The global mortality rate for Covid-19 is 3.4 percent, according to the World Health Organisation. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected. 93,574 have officially identified as having been infected with the virus, there have been 3,204 deaths that are known to have been caused by COVID-19.

However, some people who died prior to the first case that was identified as being due to the new virus have been found to have died because they also had the virus. There are 39,312 people that we know about with active infections, and 32,540 (83%) of those have mild symptoms, while 6,772 (17%) are seriously or critically ill. We now know that the virus has been spread in communities ‘under the radar’ for around six weeks before the first cases came to the attention of health authorities. Consequently, we don’t know the full extent of the epidemic yet. Or how it will continue.

In circumstances where the majority of humans are desperate to prevent the spread of a virus that has killed people, some see only an opportunity to capitalise on it and make personal profit. People are stockpiling toilet role, which has also pushed up prices. It’s one of the perverse incentives of neoliberalism: profit over human need. 

This is a disgusting manipulation of prices of essential goods that are designed to help prevent disease transmission, based on perverse profiteering motives and greed, in the face of fear and panic on a global scale. That’s despicable, utterly selfish, bordering-on-psychopathic behaviour.

Hand washing with regular soap and water is always your best bet for killing microbes on your hands, but a natural, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that you can make yourself is your next best bet if you are out and about, with no access to hand washing facilities. Although some health professionals are a bit worried that people may not include essential ingredients, others have said that provided people include a 60% (minimum) proof alcohol base in their sanitizer mixture, it will work. 

I’ve made a lot of my own toiletries over the years, because I tend to be sensitive to common additives used in commercially manufactured products. I base my ingredients on scientific research only, rather than the anecdotal evidence that commercial suppliers tend to provide.

Here is what you need to make an effective hand sanitizer:

  • Isopropyl alcohol/’surgical spirit. Needs to be at least 60% proof
  • Aloe vera or lavender gel
  • Add a teaspoon and a half of glycerine, if you have it, as a moisturiser
  • Lavender essential oil geranium or tea tree essential oil, or other essential oils of your choice. Peppermint oil, for example, is quite a powerful antimicrobial, as are rosemary, tea tree and lavender oils. The essential oils are optional, but do improve the smell, if nothing else
  • Half a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide solution at 3-5%, if you have it. This acts as a preservative, killing any existing bugs in the mixture or container
  • Small 1-2 oz bottle. Both toxin-free plastic squeeze or pump bottles, plastic or glass spray bottles work well. The hand sanitizer mixture is thin enough to be sprayed, though it will come out in more of a stream.

Pour two thirds of a cup full of the alcohol into a bowl. Remember, the alcohol needs to make up at least two thirds of the mixture and must be 60% proof or above. The two key ingredients in this recipe are the alcohol and the gel – and you can also buy lavender gels to use instead of aloe vera, if you prefer. The glycerine is to mitigate the drying effects of the alcohol a little more than the gel alone would do.

You can buy a litre of surgical spirit – 99% proof alcohol – on Amazon for just £6.99, which should last a while. Not ideal if you boycott Amazon, but sometimes, needs must. The price is likely to inflate in the coming weeks.

Add 10 to 15 drops each of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil. These two essential oils have natural antibacterial and antiviral properties, and together they smell great. You can use any other essential oils you like. the alcohol, which needs to make up at least two thirds of the mix, is the main ingredient which will kill the family of corona viruses. Other essential oils to consider are geranium (it’s great in combination with lavender, too), jasmine or rose. You can use any that you like. 

Add a third of a cup of the aloe vera or lavender gel. Stir the mixture until it is blended well. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into small 2oz spray bottles or small hand soap containers. You could also re-use shop-bought hand sanitizer containers.

This quick-fix sanitizer does work, and the ingredients have been approved by doctors, and the WHO, provided your mixture contains a minimum 60% proof alcohol. It is effective against the coronavirus family.  The virus is protected by a shell, called an “envelope glycoprotein,” which the alcohol scrambles. It dies pretty quickly once its shell has gone.

Make sure you keep the lid on your bottle closed after use, that way your sanitizer will last for weeks. Alcohol is an excellent preservative, as is the hydrogen peroxide.

Keep out of reach of children and pets.

A little more about essential oils

A group of scientists scattered across the globe are collaborating to find an effective treatment for Covid-19. One potential treatment is an anti-malarial drug called hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat some autoimmune conditions, such as lupus. I was prescribed the drug in 2016, and it has helped some of the symptoms of my illness – lupus.

Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – approved and widely used anti-malarials and autoimmune disease drugs – were effective in stopping the virus from spreading in human cells in the lab, researchers reported in a short letter published Feb. 4. in the journal Cell Research. What’s more, both drugs were effective at low concentrations, and neither drug was highly toxic to human cells.

They carry very  few side effects in the short term. Longer term – over longer than five years – both drugs can cause retinopathy in some people. Those of us taking the treatment for autoimmune disease have annual eye checks.

People with underlying autoimmune conditions such as lupus are at risk of complications from the novel coronavirus, because the illness often lowers peoples’ immunity, and many of the treatments are also immune suppressants or steroids, which inhibit the immune system further.

Current advice from rheumatologists is to keep taking your medication, and seek medical advice if you become ill with Covid-19 symptoms. 

Hydroxychlorquine is quite a powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent, which has been used to treat HIV virus, Mers virus, Dengue fever and Zika virus. Many other drugs, and combinations of medicines are being re purposed currently to explore their potential to address the coronavirus outbreak. 

There have been many historical claims made about beneficial qualities of essential oils, which have been largely anecdotal. However, over recent years scientists have trialled some essential oils to see if they can be used as part of a strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bugs. The NHS has also run many studies of the application of essential oils in healthcare settings, with some positive results..

Tea tree oil was used by soldiers to disinfect wounds during world war 2. It has a broad range antimicrobial activity. Lavender oil also scored quite well in several studies, and it reduces inflammation, as does geranium and a few other essential oils. Other essential oils that are powerfully antimicrobial are: cinnamon, clove, rosemary, wintergreen, white thyme, myrtle, basil, oregano (which even kills the bug that causes botulism), sage and verbena, among others. 

The best two according to combinations of studies, for ‘flu and cold-type viruses are tea tree, which also kills many pneumonia-causing agents, and myrtle, which also kills salmonella and e-coli bugs. White thyme has a very broad range of antimicrobial activity, too. Clove is pretty powerful as an antimicrobial generally. Peppermint, star anise, lemon balm, oregano, ginger, chamomile, thyme, sandalwood and eucalyptus oils have all demonstrated antiviral properties in laboratory tests. Many kill fungi and bacteria too.

However, a word of caution here. Although studies have shown that some essential oils do have antimicrobial properties, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette and social distancing are the most effective ways of minimising your risk of getting the coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t supplement those methods with using essential oils.

I do. I now use tea tree oil for cleaning minor cuts, as I’m quite prone to infection. Even tiny cuts have resulted in a painful abscess or a rapidly expanding area of redness and inflammation requiring antibiotics. That’s because of my lupus-related immunity problems. 

I use lavender and geranium essential oil with oatmeal in a hand soak or in the bath to treat flare ups of eczema, for example. If you try this, make sure you put the oatmeal in a muslin bag, tied cheesecloth or an old pair of tights, otherwise you will be sat in a bath load of porridge.

Never take essential oils internally, they are used as topical application and for aromatherapy only.

Remember, they are also a ‘complimentary’ medicine. I use a combination of treatments for lupus, including hydroxychloroquine and other prescribed medication from my rheumatologist, along with a  range of essential oils to ease some symptoms and to reduce my risk of infection.

I also wash my hands a lot. I use a hand gel when I can’t access washing facilities while out and about.

Keeping generally as healthy as possible is also important. Good nutrition, hydration, exercise and sufficient sleep may help people stay well.

Lastly, here are some more examples of scientific studies on the antimicrobial actions of essential oils:

Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents—Myth or Real Alternative?

Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review

Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: An in vitro study in MDCK cells

Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases

In Vitro Activity of Essential Oils Against Gram-Positive and Gram-Negative Clinical Isolates, Including Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae

Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects of three essential oil blends

Evaluation of chemical and antiviral properties of essential oils from South American plants

Inactivation of Airborne Influenza Virus by Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Oils

In vitro antiviral activity of fifteen plant extracts against avian infectious bronchitis virus (veterinary research)

Always wash your hands frequently, use cough and sneeze etiquette – cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it in a bin, or use the crook of your elbow to contain your sneeze or cough- to avoid spreading any infection. 

Keep others safe and stay safe yourselves.


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6 thoughts on “Price hikes of sanitizing gel throws perverse incentives of neoliberalism into sharp relief

  1. Reblogged this on Fear and Loathing in Great Britain and commented:
    Article includes DIY hand sanitizer. Demand for hand sanitizer is surging around the globe as the new coronavirus spreads, prompting retailers to ration supplies and online vendors, despicably, to hike prices.


  2. Just signed a petition on to challenge exactly this behaviour you describe. They have petitioned Ebay and Amazon demanding that they take down and block all further sites from advertising and selling extortionately priced hand sanitisers…apparently Amazon wins with one ad asking for £109.20 for a mini gel that normally sells for £3.49. Rabid capitalism at its worst.

    Thanks for the recipes as I too have dreadful eczema and nasty reactions to chemical ingredients, gotta love aloe vera in all its forms.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WhctKJVqqqWVwkBPgxVVkjlnLzQpFdvTdhHwgJdbtnVbpNFmHWVzXJzsMdVbFTFRMdsClgq

    ~ note to self, dont touch the laptop after a long day!

    Kitty please find the link for the petition here and edit out the info YOU had already given about Amazons price hike…Thank God for moderation. Arthritis in my hands caused LIKE button to be touched not an inflated ego!

    Found your work originally on Vox Political and then signed up for WordPress to follow your articles, now please excuse me whilst I go lay down in a darkened room and grizzle to myself


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