OU lab tackles hand sanitiser shortage

Apr 02, 2020

MUCH-NEEDED hand sanitiser for those working across the healthcare sector is being manufactured at The Open University in Milton Keynes.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented demand for hand sanitiser from the public and across the healthcare landscape, which has caused a national shortage.

Scientists from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty at the OU have been using their expertise and resources to respond to the shortage by producing hand sanitiser in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommended Handrub Formulation.

OU laboratory manager Dr Michael Batham initially made a small batch of the hand sanitiser at home after his local supermarket ran out of stock, which prompted him to produce a larger quantity for the local health service.

Leading a team of three scientists, Dr Batham used isopropyl alcohol (propan-2-ol) also known as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol and sterile distilled water to make the cleansing gel.

“The NHS will be under great pressure in the coming weeks and months, and local trusts will need help and resources to reduce the spread of coronavirus,” Dr Batham said.

“We have the capability, expertise and resources to produce hand sanitiser in our state-of-the-art laboratories on our Milton Keynes campus. It therefore is only natural that we should direct these resources to do what we can to support our local community.”

This week, the team produced a total 60 500ml bottles of hand sanitiser which will be donated to NHS professionals in Milton Keynes and the wider community.

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