The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it has indefinitely extended its emerging viral pathogens (EVP) guidance for antimicrobial pesticides. This allows registrants with a pre-qualified EVP designation to continue to claim the efficacy of their antimicrobial products against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

EPA regulates antimicrobial pesticides—which include household disinfectants and sanitizers—under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). These products cannot be sold absent registration with EPA under FIFRA, which typically requires that any claims for the product's use against a specific pathogen be supported by EPA-reviewed data. EPA's review of data can often take a year or longer. The emergence of new viral pathogens complicates this process, as antimicrobial product manufacturers must both test their products' efficacy against the emerging pathogen and navigate the lengthy EPA review process. This process poses significant hurdles to ensuring the public's timely access to EPA-approved products that can be used to combat the rapid spread of emerging viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

As a result, EPA first extended its EVP guidance to SARS-CoV-2 in January 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this guidance, antimicrobial pesticide manufacturers can support COVID-19 claims by providing EPA with data that shows that their products are effective against harder-to-kill viruses. Upon EPA approval, these manufacturers could make claims for their products' use and efficacy against the novel coronavirus for up to 24 months after the viral outbreak began. The recent extension of the EVP guidance allows registrants to continue to include SARS-CoV-2 EVP claims with their product literature and consumer messaging until EPA deactivates its guidance. EPA will provide registrants with six months' notice before doing so.

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