MAR 27, 2020 6:00 AM PDT

Hand Sanitizer Shorage: Liquor, Perfume, and Medication Producers Joined the Race to Restock the Shelves

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

(Pixabay)

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the habit of thorough and frequent handwashing are among the best defense against the contagious disease. But when soap and water aren't available, hand sanitizers become the second line of defense. But as the main brand producers are struggling to resupply, pharmacies and grocery stores have problems restocking their empty shelves with the gel-like handrub.

Two months ago, Hovione, a Portugal-based pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer, faced a shortage of hand sanitizers at its plant in Macau during the first wave of COVID outbreak in China. The chemical company decided immediately that they would start manufacturing the much needed germ-killing liquid themselves.

Hovione isn't alone. Many other corporations that are involved in chemical manufacturing, alcohol production, and ingredient compounding have recently joined the race to supply market with the liquid disinfectant. Among them there are big names in various indutries, such as German chemical giant BASF, British gin and rum producer Psychopomp & Circumstance Distillery, Swiss fragrance manufacturer Firmenich, and global beer brewer Anheuser-Busch.

Making hand sanitizers isn't rocket science. According to many D.I.Y. sites, you only need to assemble several easy-to-acquire ingredients: rubbing alcohol (99% at minimum), aloe vera gel, and inexpensive essential oil. As long as the final product has at least 60% alcohol content, it would be effective in killing bacteria and viruses alike.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also published its own recommended formula for manufacturers to follow, which contains (by volume) 75% isopropyl alcohol, 1.45% glycerol, and 0.13% hydrogen peroxide.

Hovione dedicated a small team and a production facility just outside Lisbon, the Portugese capital, for hand sanitizer production. To meet the regional need, they expect to raise the production volume to five metric tons mid-March and six times more towards late March.

With the increasing number of specialty chemical manufacturers racing to keep our hand clean, it is hopeful that our healthcare system, as well as ordinary citizens, can have access to the hand-disinfecting essential. 

How do hand sanitizers work (ACS Reactions)

Source: C&EN

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
AUG 21, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Earth's Outer Core, in the Middle of a Laboratory
AUG 21, 2020
Earth's Outer Core, in the Middle of a Laboratory
Deep underneath our feet lies Earth's outer core, a fluid layer over two thousand kilometers (1,500 mi) in thickness ...
SEP 15, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Chemistry Grad Students Be Warned: a Robotic Takeover?
SEP 15, 2020
Chemistry Grad Students Be Warned: a Robotic Takeover?
In a recent news release, the research arm of IBM announced that their Zurich team has developed an autonomous ...
SEP 26, 2020
Microbiology
Eliminating Biofilms with Green Tea-Derived Nanobots
SEP 26, 2020
Eliminating Biofilms with Green Tea-Derived Nanobots
Bacteria are everywhere in our world, and while the vast majority are harmless, some can cause dangerous infections. Bac ...
OCT 15, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
PFAS levels are dangerously high in US drinking water
OCT 15, 2020
PFAS levels are dangerously high in US drinking water
A study published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters has found toxic levels of ...
OCT 30, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Superconductivity at Room Temperature - Have Scientists Finally Achieved the Impossible?
OCT 30, 2020
Superconductivity at Room Temperature - Have Scientists Finally Achieved the Impossible?
First discovered by Dutch physicist Heike Onnes in the early 20th century, superconductivity is a rare phenomenon observ ...
OCT 30, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Designing tensional homeostasis in human skin equivalents
OCT 30, 2020
Designing tensional homeostasis in human skin equivalents
A new development in the production of artificial skins comes from scientists at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamic ...
Loading Comments...