The Swedish health care system is currently experiencing a shortage of disposable articles and alerts have been issued regarding this problem which has arisen as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. The need for protective equipment, such as face masks and disposable gloves, as well as hand sanitizers is considerable. Lennart Bergström, professor at the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, wanted Stockholm University to act on this.
“When the lack of material in the medical field became apparent a few days ago, I asked myself how the University, and especially we as chemists, could contribute”, said Lennart Bergström.

Request for materials to be donated
Professor Bergström contacted Berit Olofsson, a professor of organic chemistry and section dean, and asked what could be done. She then contacted the Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm to find out what urgent needs they had. The hospital reported shortages of hand sanitizer and certain other protective equipment. On March 18, Berit Olofsson sent out a request to the natural science departments at the University to find out what disposable equipment they had, which could immediately be sent to the medical service. Examples of such equipment were pump bottles, safety masks, goggles, transparent aprons and protective gloves.
“The response from colleagues and departments has been fantastic: in just a few hours, more than 250 liters had been collected and more is coming in every day”, Lennart Bergström said.  


First delivery to Danderyd Hospital
Already in the evening, Danderyd Hospital was able to collect, among other things, three large boxes with hand sanitizers in pump bottles, 200 gloves, 40-50 face masks, 200 face masks and 30 liters of hand-made hand sanitizer.
The production of hand sanitizers began in a laboratory at the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry and at a research group at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at SciLifeLab already in the afternoon. At the same time, the collection of disposable articles and bottles of hand sanitizer was under the direction of research engineer Hanna Gustavsson.
“One reason that the collection of materials was so efficient was the involvement of the University's local lab safety network. These are people who usually work with lab safety at the departments. They let everything they had in their hands go and began to share the information, collect disposable items and make an inventory of the chemical raw materials supply. The whole group deserves high praise”, says Hanna Gustavsson.

At Stockholm University, the production of hand sanitizer continues. The next batch goes to Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. The Swedish Museum of Natural History has also said that they can spare 1,900 liters of ethanol, which could mean an additional 2,000 liters of hand sanitizer.

The initiative received attention in both traditional media, as well as in social media. Matilda Ernkrans, the Swedish Minister of Higher Education and Research, has tweeted about it, describing it as, “an important initiative,” and urging other universities to follow Stockholm University’s example.