Craft gin pioneers @Sipsmith will donate 3000L of alcohol to @ImperialCollege to make hand sanitiser for #NHS hospitals during the #coronavirus crisis.

Sipsmith gin

The donation from the London-based gin distillery will allow Imperial to make enough medical grade hand sanitiser to wash up to 1.2 million hands across hospitals across North West London, initially at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Imperial has already produced more than 350l of sanitiser for Trust hospitals.

Imperial College London, a world top ten university that is at the helm of the global fight against COVID-19, has already produced more than 350l of hand sanitiser so far to help the NHS address the coronavirus-induced shortage.

The sanitiser, which is made to two World Health Organisation approved formulations, has so far been distributed to Trust hospitals including St Mary’s and Charing Cross Hospitals.

Immense effort

The donation of 96% neutral grain spirit from Sipsmith - which otherwise would have been used to produce 5625L of gin - will allow Imperial to around 4000L of ethanol based hand sanitiser, which will be distributed to Trust hospitals and beyond.

The sanitiser is produced by a team from Imperial’s Department of Chemical Engineering Department, made up of safety experts, academic researchers, and specialist lab technicians. The team includes: Severine Toson (Health and Safety Officer), Pim Amrit (Pim Amrit, Departmental Services and Safety Manager, Richard Dixon (Operational Technician), Parth Shah (Research Assistant), Dr Wenqian Chen (Research Associate), Colin Hale (Senior Teaching Fellow), Dr Umang Shah (Principal Teaching Fellow), Andrew Macey (Teaching Lab Technician) and Eddie Hartrick (Process Safety Manager).

Professor Nilay Shah, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, said: “This project reflects an immense College-wide effort to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis in whatever way we can. I am proud to see my colleagues rising to this challenge and supporting our NHS partners.

“Universities and gin distilleries do not cross paths very often, and this goes to show the power of pulling together in a time of great need. We are very grateful to Sipsmith for this donation which will vastly increase the help we are able to provide staff and patients.

Supporting the NHS

Faifax Hall

Faifax Hall (right) and fellow Sipsmith co-founders

Fairfax Hall, Co-Founder of Sipsmith, said:

“Over the past few weeks, the Sipsmith Distillery team have been working hard to find a way to safely and efficiently support the NHS’s demand for hand sanitiser during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are proud to partner with Imperial College London - a leading university currently working tirelessly to produce hand sanitiser - that will be donated directly to the NHS. Joining forces ensures that the hand sanitiser made with our donated alcohol is produced as safely as possible, as well as giving the ability to distribute efficiently in order to help those in need as quickly as we can.”

St Mary's Hospital

St Mary's Hospital is among those to receive sanitiser

Mr Shehan Hettiaratchy, Lead surgeon and Director of the Major Trauma Centre at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, is coordinating the distribution of the hand sanitisers at the Trust’s hospitals. He added: “I want to thank Sipsmith and Imperial for coming together to make hand sanitisers for our healthcare staff. At a time when NHS staff and our services are being challenged, it is vital that key resources are distributed to staff and patients who need it. This partnership will ensure that we have a healthy supply of sanitisers so that we can continue to provide the best possible care to our patients during this crisis. It is great to see unexpected collaborations taking place to support the NHS and it shows the benefits of our close partnership with the College and the quick response to meet a real NHS need.”

The team will now explore whether they can also produce enough hand sanitiser to distribute to NHS staff in other hospital trusts, care homes and the Metropolitan police.

This initiative is an example of the work carried out by Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, a joint initiative between Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and two other hospital trusts. It aims to transform healthcare by turning scientific discoveries into medical advances to benefit local, national and global populations in as fast a timeframe as possible.

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