Health, Fitness & Food

A person uses hand sanitizer on Pier 39 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, March 16, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. federal government will allow firms to begin manufacturing their own hand sanitizer with limited guidance as the spreading coronavirus dwindles supply across the country. 

Due to high demand for hand sanitizer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it will not take action against firms that begin manufacturing hand sanitizer for consumers and health care professionals, the agency said in a statement. 

“We are aware of significant supply disruptions for alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Many manufacturers make hand sanitizers, and several have indicated that they are working to increase supply,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “In the meantime, these guidances provide flexibility to help meet demand during this outbreak.

The FDA said it issued its new guidance after receiving reports of consumers and health care professions unable to access sanitizer after demand skyrocketed due to the spreading coronavirus, which has been confirmed in all 50 states and has infected more than 14,300 people in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data. 

Companies have recently tried to help patch the shortage of hand sanitizer by retooling their production lines. On Sunday, LVMH said the factories that produce perfume and makeup for brands like Christian Dior and Givenchy would begin making hand gel. There have also been a number of alcohol distilleries across the globe that have reported switching their production to hand sanitizer.

In New York, which has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at the beginning of the month that the state would begin producing 100,000 bottles of its own hand sanitizer a week to meet demand. 

In recent weeks, health care professionals have reported hand sanitizer stolen from hospitals, forcing them to remove the bottles from common areas. People have also started making their own home-made hand sanitizer, although the FDA said it doesn’t know whether those products are safe for people’s skin. 

In addition to hand washing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using a hand santizier with at least 60% alcohol content. 

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