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Act of generosity: Indian-origin New Zealand lecturer, students volunteer time to make sanitisers

The sanitiser formulation follows WHO recommended guidelines.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2020, 06.13 PM IST
Dr Shyamal Das and his team decided to take things into their own hands​ as the world faces sanitiser shortage.
Dr Shyamal Das and his team decided to take things into their own hands as the world faces sanitiser shortage.
It’s one of the main things that can help battle the pandemic, good hand hygiene. And one New Zealand university decided to take things into their own hands - quite literally.

All the hand sanitiser needed by the University of Otago’s Dunedin campus over the coming weeks has been produced in-house and in record time by a School of Pharmacy senior lecturer and his students.

Pharmaceutical Sciences Senior Lecturer Dr Shyamal Das led the project, making an ethanol-based hand rub. Six of his students helped produce the sanitiser, volunteering their time in the face of the escalating coronavirus crisis, Dr Das said. They are Tushar Saha, Nicole Wood, Rakesh Bastola, Rishi Shah, Prakash Khadka and Bishal Adhikari.

Dr Das says he had wanted to contribute to the community during this COVID19 pandemic but had been unsure how. He had been researching the development of inhalers to help with this disease but knew that would take time.

“So I immediately decided to prepare essential hand sanitiser, of which there is currently a crisis in the market, to help minimise the spread of viruses and save lives. And all my students devoted themselves to this novel initiative, to help in this humanitarian crisis.”

That idea became action following the generous support of Professor Carlo Marra, the Dean of the School of Pharmacy, Dr Das says.

​Dr Shyamal ​Das wanted to contribute to the community during the pandemic but had been unsure how.​
Dr Shyamal Das wanted to contribute to the community during the pandemic but had been unsure how.

In all, 100 litres of the sanitiser was produced over three long days in six batches, with the last of it completed just before the School of Pharmacy’s doors were locked for the nationwide shutdown on Wednesday, Dr Das said. That amount of sanitiser more than covered the University’s needs.

Emergency and Business Continuity Coordinator Andrew Ferguson says the bulk of the sanitiser was being distributed to the essential services remaining open on campus, including Campus Watch and the campus’s residential colleges.

The excess sanitiser has been made available to Dunedin Public Hospital and Civil Defence.

While the University sanitiser was not available to the public, Mr. Ferguson says it was hoped its production would take a significant amount of pressure off commercial suppliers, freeing up capacity for the general public.

The sanitiser formulation follows World Health Organization recommended guidelines and contains 80% ethanol, glycerol (1.45%) and hydrogen peroxide (0.125% v/v). Quality control testing has been completed to ensure, when used correctly, the sanitiser will help minimise the spread of microorganisms.

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