UEA project helps clean more than a million pairs of hands during virus crisis

UEA's Vice-Chancellor David Richardson visited the technicians in the lab back in March, before soci

UEA's Vice-Chancellor David Richardson visited the technicians in the lab back in March, before social distancing measures were put in place. Picture: UEA - Credit: Archant

A University of East Anglia project to make hand sanitiser for key workers during the coronavirus pandemic is coming to an end after successfully helping to clean 1.3 million pairs of hands.

The UEA COVID-19 hand sanitiser project in numbers. Image: UEA

The UEA COVID-19 hand sanitiser project in numbers. Image: UEA - Credit: Archant

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Public Health England issued advice urging people to use sanitiser to prevent the spread of the virus.

The increased usage and demand meant hospitals and NHS healthcare facilities across the UK faced a shortage.

In response, a team of 14 technicians from the UEA opened up the university’s otherwise vacant science labs to produce emergency supplies of hand sanitiser and help meet the shortfall.

Now, after 12 weeks during which the labs have produced 3,880 litres of hand sanitiser which has been distributed to 15 local health and social care facilities, including Norfolk’s three main hospitals and Norfolk County Council, the project is coming to an end.


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Prof Nancy Fontaine, chief nurse at the NNUH, said: “We are incredibly grateful to UEA for their generous donation.

“Hand sanitiser has been a vital and precious commodity in preventing the spread of coronavirus over the last couple of months, protecting both our staff and our patients.

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“Without this generosity we would not have been able to maintain the required hygiene standards, so crucial at a time like this. So I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this incredible achievement for supporting our frontline NHS and social care staff in tackling the virus.”

During the course of the project, the UEA called on local businesses and the general public for help to support the scheme, among those to come forward and offer support were Adnams which donated ethanol supplies.

Fergus Fitzgerald, head brewer at Adnams, said: “It’s important that we all do what we can to help one another. “We looked into the best way to make hand sanitiser, working with the great team at UEA was the quickest and simplest way we could help.”

While the main project is coming to an end, the UEA will continue to work with Norfolk and Waveney cancer charity, Big C, until the end of August supplying surplus bottles of hand sanitiser for welfare packages.

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