Pathogenic viral infections pose major health risks to humans and livestock due to viral
infection-associated illnesses such as chronic or acute inflammation in crucial organs and systems,
malignant and benign lesions. These lead to large number of illnesses and deaths worldwide each year.
Outbreaks of emerging lethal viruses, such as Ebola virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
virus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus, could lead to epidemics or even pandemics
if they are not effectively controlled. Current strategies to prevent viral entry into the human body are
focused on cleansing the surface of the skin that covers hands and fingers. Surface protection and
disinfection against microorganisms, including viruses, is performed by sanitization of the skin surface through hand
washing with soap and water, surface disinfectants, and hand sanitizers, particularly alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
However, concerns about the overall ineffectiveness, toxicity of certain ingredients of disinfectants, pollution of the
environment, and the short duration of antimicrobial activity of alcohol have not been addressed, and the epidemiology of
certain major viral infections are not correlated inversely with the current measures of viral prevention. In addition to a
short duration on the skin surface, alcohol is ineffective against certain viruses such as norovirus, rabies virus, and polio
virus. There is a need for a novel approach to protect humans and livestock from infections of pathogenic viruses that is
broadly effective, long-lasting (persistent), non-toxic, and environment-friendly. A strong candidate is a group of unique
compounds found in Camellia sinensis (tea plant): the green tea polyphenols, in particular epigallocatechin-3-gallate
(EGCG) and its lipophilic derivatives. This review discussed the weaknesses of current hand sanitizers, gathered
published results from many studies on the antiviral activities of EGCG and its lipophilic derivatives, and the potential use
of these compounds as a novel strategy for disease prevention, especially against pathogenic viruses.