Panic buying has taken hold in the wake of the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, which has so far claimed 170 lives according to media reports.

Overnight British Airways suspended all flights to and from China for the next month. The Australian government is proposing to keep citizens stuck in Wuhan quarantined on Christmas Island for two weeks after being evacuated.

People everywhere are scrambling to get their hands on products that will stop them from getting the virus, leading to a shortage of things like face masks and hand sanitiser.

ASX-listed small cap Holista CollTech (ASX:HCT) announced yesterday it had sold out of its NatShield sanitiser in Asia. The company ordered 60,000 more units to keep up with demand.

“It caught us by surprise,” CEO Dr Rajen Manicka told Stockhead. “People are panicking and I don’t think the panic is unjustified.

“There have been 138 deaths and this virus unlike the others tends to be contagious even in incubation — even before you realise you’re sick. That is a big difference.”


Could this help?

The spike in sales would suggest people are trusting it to at least help contain the virus as a disinfectant.

In yesterday morning’s announcement, Dr Manicka said three to five sprays can disinfect contaminated surfaces such as hands, toilet seats, doorknobs, countertops and trolley bars.

NatShield contains an anti-microbial compound which weakens the cell walls of the virus by causing the infectious organisms to clump together, in the process killing themselves, almost instantly.

While it was created to keep other coronaviruses at bay, it is not yet known if it will do the same for this latest strain.

The sanitiser’s original creator, South Carolina-focused Global Infection Control Consultants (GICC), is currently testing the impact of the sanitiser on the new Coronavirus. Dr Manicka expects the results in the coming days and is confident of a positive outcome.

“The [Wuhan virus] is a coronavirus, all of them are similar. The virus’ internal structure is different but they all have similar code to protect themselves — finite over millions of years,” he said.

While Holista may appear to be just the Asian distributor, the company has a unique relationship with GICC in that it also plays a part in the production process.

“The scientist of the technology has been working with me in Malaysia for the last 10 years, and when we said we loved it, they said you have the rights for ASEAN,” Dr Manicka told Stockhead.

(While its distribution rights include Australia, New Zealand and some affected countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, it does not include China).

“We’re the only agent in the world where he sends us the concentrate, we mix it via his protocol and distribute it,” Dr Manicka said. “We have a unique relationship which both sides value.”

Coronavirus fears send tourism and China-focused consumer stocks plunging