LONDON (ICIS)--BASF is set to begin production of hand sanitizers at its Ludwigshafen petrochemicals hub in Germany and will distribute them for free to nearby hospitals in the Rhine-Neckar region to help alleviate supply bottlenecks amid the worsening coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
The company has obtained quick regulatory approvals to begin the production, and several tonnes of isopropanol have already been re-allocated to enable hand sanitizer production at the site, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
So far, BASF has been producing certain raw materials that can be used to make disinfectant products, but not hand sanitizers.
The company’s move comes amid bottlenecks in the supply of hand sanitizers because of the jump in demand amid the spread of the coronavirus, which keeps worsening in Germany and elsewhere.
“We know from hospitals in the region that supplies of appropriate disinfectants are very tight,” said Uwe Liebelt, head of the Ludwigshafen site.
BASF added that its production capabilities will be “limited”, and the company will therefore be able to distribute free products only to hospitals in the region.
German chemical producers' group VCI has launched a “disinfectant products initiative" that aims at ensuring supplies of isopropanol, ethanol, and other chemicals, as well as the disinfectants made from those raw materials.
Because of complex legal regulations, Germany currently has only a few specialty firms that are allowed to produce and market disinfectant products, a VCI official said in a media interview last week.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Robert Koch medical institute (RKI) on Tuesday upgraded its risk assessment for infection from the virus to “high”, from “moderate”.
As of Monday evening, the institute registered just over 6,000 confirmed cases of infections - up by 1,100 from Sunday.
But in a webcast press briefing on Tuesday a RKI official said that the real number of infections was likely “substantially higher”.
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