A comment on the question suggests that several infectious viruses (including 2019-nCoV) are envelope viruses and that alcohol can "strip away the molecules used for host cell recognition". Viral envelopes (are), typically derived from portions of the host cell membranes.
A key component of these envelopes are of course lipids.
From Antiviral activity of alcohol for surface disinfection:
Antiviral activity and the viral envelope
Because of the structure and composition of the different virus families, viruses react differently to the action of disinfectants. From a disinfectant point of view, the presence or absence of an envelope is the most important trait of a virus. Lipid-enveloped virus families are, generally, susceptible to many disinfectants, alcohols included. The higher the lipid content and the larger the virion itself, the more susceptible the virus is.
Many (but not all) of the so called small `naked' virus families (e.g. adeno, parvo, picorna viruses causing a.o. poliomyelitis,hepatitis A, hand foot and mouth disease, common cold) that do not possess an envelope are quite resistant to common disin-fectants, alcohols included (6, 7).
Fortunately, the herpes viruses (herpes simplex I and II, 5-8,varicella, Epstein Barr); paramyxo viruses (measles, mumps);retro viruses (HIV, AIDS); hepadna viruses (hepatitis B); coronaviruses (SARS) are lipid-enveloped virus families that are, generally, susceptible to the disinfectant activity of alcohols(5, 8).
5 JuÈlich W-D, v. Rheinbaben F, Steinmann J, Kramer A. On the virucidal efficacy of chemical and physical disinfectants or disinfection procedures. Hyg Med 1993; 18: 303-26.
6 Tyler R, Ayliffe GA, Bradley C. Virucidal activity of dis-infectants: studies with the poliovirus.J Hosp Infect 1990; 15:339-45.
7 Mbithi JN, Springthorpe VS, Sattar SA. Chemical disinfection of hepatitis A virus on environmental surfaces. Appl Environ Microbiol 1990; 56:3601-4.
8 Croughan WS, Behbehani AM. Comparative study of inactivation of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 by commonly used antiseptic agents.J Clin Microbiol 1998; 26: 213-5.