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School of Chemistry produces WHO hand sanitiser for city's key workers

The first batch of WHO-grade hand sanitiser University of Bristol

22 April 2020

A team from the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry is producing World Health Organisation (WHO) hand sanitiser for key workers throughout the city, as part of its ongoing community efforts throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Academics, researchers and technicians from the School of Chemistry have sourced the raw materials, secured the necessary certification and produced around 1000 litres over the course of 10 days.  This was achieved with support from colleagues across the University, as well as Bristol Waste and raw material suppliers including Merck Group’s Sigma-Aldrich. Fifty boxes, to help deliver the hand sanitiser, were also donated by Aiden Bell from DBM Wines.  

The first delivery of some 600 x 0.5 litre pump dispensers was delivered to Bristol City Council last week, who will help to distribute the sanitiser to key workers such as the emergency services, postal workers, waste management operatives and transport staff.

The isopropanol-based sanitiser, which has had formal approval from the Health and Safety Executive, is one of the two WHO-recommended formulas.

The team, which spread themselves across two state-of-the-art teaching laboratories in the University’s Chemistry building, will continue to produce the free hand sanitiser for the city to help meet the rising demand. Led by Professor Tim Gallagher, the team’s next target is to make a further 2,000 litres in the coming weeks.

The team is also engaged in providing a second WHO-grade hand sanitiser, specifically aimed at hospitals and care homes.

Professor Gallagher said: “This has been a real team effort, with unstinting support from colleagues from across the University, the City Council and our external partners and suppliers.

“The demand for WHO-grade sanitiser, and the raw supplies needed to make it, has soared in recent weeks, and with absolute reason.  It’s vital that our front-line workers are as protected as possible, so they can continue to carry out their crucial duties and keep our city running.

“As a leading University with facilities, suppliers and expertise, we have a duty to step up in unprecedented times such as these. Provided that we get enough raw materials and dispensers, we’ll continue to make hand sanitiser for as long as the demand continues. We know it will make a tangible difference to our community, and we’ll continue to do what we can to help Bristol through the pandemic.”

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the University of Bristol for the generous donation of hand sanitiser and gloves to help us during the coronavirus pandemic. This equipment will be going straight to those on the frontline of tackling the virus, particularly care and residential home settings who are supporting some of Bristol’s most vulnerable citizens.

“This is another great example of Bristol pulling together during a crisis, and I’d like to thank everyone across the city who has volunteered their time and expertise in recent weeks in response to the virus.”

This is the latest in a number of steps the University has taken to support its community since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

One hundred rooms in the University’s student accommodation at 33 Colston Street have been made available to NHS workers and volunteers, alongside free parking in two of the University’s largest car parks. The University’s Health & Safety team has also been busy donating personal protection equipment, usually reserved for laboratory work, to NHS workers across Bristol.

On Friday 3 April, 220 final-year medicals also qualified early in the University’s first ever virtual qualification ceremony, so they could join the NHS early as junior doctors and join the front-line of the fight against Coronavirus.

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