Since the very first days of the coronavirus crisis hand sanitisers have been essential for keeping our hands clean and virus free.
But supplies have become increasingly difficult to acquire, even for medical services.
To help out, a JRC laboratory in Geel (Belgium) has teamed up with their local hospital to produce over 1 ton of hand sanitising gel.
In early March when the COVID crisis was looming, suddenly sanitising products such as hand gel, were sold out.
Håkan Emteborg, the group leader of the reference materials processing in the JRC site in Geel realised that the equipment used to produce reference materials could be employed to produce hand gel. "Our initial aim was to provide hand sanitising gel to the colleagues. We produced our first batch of gel using the WHO recipe and pharmaceutical grade ingredients".
From own needs production to helping doctors and nurses
Soon however it became clear that also local doctors and nurses had been affected by the shortage of sanitising products. After a consultation by a local GP association, Håkan and his team moved on to supply local doctors with seventy litres of hand gel, packed into 540 small bottles that could be conveniently taken while visiting patients.
Before producing the gel, it was also important to get a permission from the Belgian authorities, as the production of hand sanitisers is regulated. Fortunately during the coronavirus crisis, many countries have lowered the requirements to produce sanitising agents, providing temporary authorisations to prepare these items.
For Robert Koeber, the Head of the Reference Materials Unit, it was an important condition to obtain an authorisation before handing out the gel: "after providing the required documents, we quickly received the temporary authorisation from the Belgian authorities. Without it, we could not have provided any gel to external persons such as doctors or hospitals."
1300 litres of gel for the local hospital
The fame of JRC-Geel gel has reached the local hospital. "We have been contacted in mid-April by the hospital in Geel whether we could produce 500 litres of gel for them, since the hospital doesn’t have the necessary machinery to mix such large quantities", explains Håkan. "The hospital provided the necessary alcohol; we have mixed it with glycerol and hydrogen peroxide and filled it into small containers". Robert adds, "The very warm response from colleagues, doctors and hospital staff makes all involved people very proud".
In the first two weeks of May, the JRC team produced and delivered to the hospital yet another batch of 800 litres, reaching 1.3 tons of hand sanitiser to this day.
- Publication date
- 19 May 2020