Friday, June 14, 2024

University of Victoria donates more than 200 litres of hand sanitizer to Island Health


The University of Victoria (UVic) donated more than 200 litres of hand sanitizer to Island Health on Tuesday.

The donation is enough for about 65,000 single doses – for use by Island Health, whose front-line workers are in the thick of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UVic chemist David Leitch who is leading the project has been working from his home office pursuing scientific discovery to help produce and donate a potential life-saver in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

“The ingredients are basic. It’s pharmaceutical grade 190 to 200 proof ethanol—much stronger than the spirits you get at the local liquor store—hydrogen peroxide and a softening agent like glycerin to make sure your hands don’t get dried out to the point of seriously cracking,” says Leitch, who collaborated on the project with six other researchers.

“The recipe is in line with World Health Organization guidelines – so it’s easy, safe, useful and potentially life-saving for someone in this current climate.”

Using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 per cent alcohol – or 120 proof – helps avoid people getting sick or spreading germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leitch was able to leverage his prior experience in the pharmaceutical industry to plan and execute a manufacturing campaign consistent with stringent Health Canada standards.

A team of researchers used supplies already on hand. From conception, licensing approval to manufacture, the process took less than two weeks, much faster than normal, says Leitch.

He adds delivery would not have been possible without extremely rapid turnaround time for Health Canada approvals, a donation of kegs by a local microbrewery to mix the sanitizer and the incredibly hard work of UVic researchers.

UVic chemistry faculty and staff—Katherine Elvira, Scott McIndoe, Jeremy Wulff, David Berry, and department chair, Neil Burford—along with Heather Buckley, cross-appointed in chemistry and civil engineering, spent a morning mixing up the solutions.

“In uncertain and different times, researchers are also doing everything they can to use their knowledge and experience as teachers to keep the UVic community engaged with science, despite the new remote working reality,” says Elvira.

“Science contributes vitally to some of the world’s toughest problems including the current COVID-19 response. We are all—researchers, students, UVic—adapting as a community,” she says.

Burford adds he is inspired by the hard work of faculty, staff and students, and their efforts under these “very challenging conditions” to maintain consistency.

In ongoing care for COVID-19 patients, Island Health welcomes donations of personal protective equipment and medical supplies.

Victoria Buzz Staff
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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