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27 April 2020

Academics banding together to make hand gel for NHS staff

Staff from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences have been making up to 200 bottles per day of sanitising hand gel for distribution

NHS volunteers

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, basic amenities have been in short supply but a group of academics at The School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences are coming together to make much needed hand gel from scratch in the School’s labs.

Led by Dr Amedeo Chiribiri from the Department of Cardiovascular Imaging, and with the lab managers and the CMR group, the team has been making up to 200 bottles per day of sanitising hand gel to distribute to MRI scanners, staff, community services workers and GSTT.

This effort has been made possible by making the School’s stock of alcohol available for the production, and from Ikea UK, which donated almost 700 dispensers to distribute the gel.

“It’s the same product the hospital would normally buy from its suppliers and it takes about half an hour for a batch of two litres which is a bottle of alcohol,” Dr Chiribiri said.

The gel is made in the School’s Engineering Workshop and follows the recipe by the World Health Organization which is publicly available online.

It allows anyone who has these agents, alcohol, glycerol (a cosmetic product) and hydrogen peroxide to mix them in pre-specified quantities to make the hand gel.

“It’s very low-tech and the instructions show you how to make it in the kitchen basically,” he said.

Dr Chiribiri said once the team makes the solution it stays in the bottles for at least 48 hours so the hydrogen peroxide kills all the pathogens possibly contained in the bottles.

“Colleagues are very grateful and is really is the only alternative effectively clean your hands if you don’t have a sink and soap,” Dr Chiribiri said.

Dr Chiribiri said he has collected all the alcohol available in the School and is waiting on chemical tests on a different type of alcohol to be authorised for use.

“As soon as we will get permission to use this other alcohol, we will complete our production, probably just short of a thousand bottles,” he said.