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Cork veterinary lab pivots to hand sanitisers for hospitals

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Shifting focus: Mervue aims to deliver 19,000 units of hand gel a day

Shifting focus: Mervue aims to deliver 19,000 units of hand gel a day

Shifting focus: Mervue aims to deliver 19,000 units of hand gel a day

MERVUE Laboratories in Cork has pivoted production to make 19,000 units of hand sanitiser gel daily for hospital staff - an idea borne from the lab chief's chat with his pharmacist.

"Mervue Laboratories are using the production facilities of our Watergrasshill factory to produce hand sanitising gels from this week onwards," said director William Twomey.

"We have diverted staff from normal business, which we have put on hold in the national interest to meet the unprecedented demand and the requirements of the HSE and the amazing front-line staff," Mr Twomey said.

Based in Watergrasshill, Co Cork, Mervue normally manufactures a range of nutritional and pharmaceutical products for farm animals, pets, horses and - for many of its export clients in 50 nations - camels.

But Mr Twomey said he decided to shift production after a friendly chat last week with his local pharmacist, Ciaran O'Sullivan.

He told Mr Twomey that his pharmacy, like most nationwide, was struggling to keep antiseptic hand sanitisers in stock - and too much of that supply came from imports potentially at risk of supply chain disruption or spiking demand at home.

While Mervue is expert in manufacturing gel-based products, it needed a massive supply of alcohol to make hand sanitiser.

Mervue sounded out the Jameson distillery some 20 kilometres down the road in Midleton - and parent company Irish Distillers agreed to provide a free flow of that key ingredient.

"We're making our alcohol available at no cost. It's something we're delighted to do," said Irish Distillers communications director Rosemary Garth. "This is about protecting our employees and our communities, and that's our focus."

Mr Twomey called it "the perfect match of a local Irish company and multinational based in Cork working together in a time of unprecedented circumstances".

Mervue has begun supplying hand gels to the HSE's central distribution centre and is aiming to deliver 19,000 units a day.

The pharmacist, Mr O'Sullivan, said: "Hand sanitiser is essential for our health services as - provided it is made of 60pc alcohol - it can be effective in killing off the virus. It is essential it is available in large quantities for front-line staff to protect them and help save lives."

Irish Independent