As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues and the country remains under lockdown, certain important medical products still remain scarce. One of these is hand sanitiser, so the University of South Africa (Unisa) has begun the process of making its own.

“The project is the brainchild of MSc student Fungai Chibaya and draws on the expertise of scientists attached to the university’s Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability (NanoWS) research unit. Located in Unisa’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), NanoWS is a strategic research unit that sustainably addresses current and emerging issues relating to water quality and water scarcity,” reads an announcement from the school.

Chibaya actually created a prototype batch of sanitiser at home on 11th March before approaching the university to make more. Various members of Unisa staff then ran with the idea and began gathering materials to make it happen.

As production of the sanitiser ramps up, the initial batches will be assigned to Unisa staff, as well as dedicated to the cleaning of the school’s campuses. This is especially important as, just this week, Unisa reported its first positive COVID-19 case which has afflicted one of its professors.

The production of this product has received a permit to go ahead during lockdown, but it is expected to continue even when this period of inactivity lifts.

Right now the facilities have the capacity to produce one thousand litres of the sanitiser per day. Unisa is hoping to sell 50 percent of it to recoup the costs of production with the rest intended to be donated to students, staff and their communities.