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One bourbon, one scotch, one beer to kill coronavirus

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The battle against the pandemic now involves booze companies, which are using their stores of alcohol to help make the hand sanitizer thats in short supply across the EU.

Thats prompting national governments to relax their chemical rules to allow more companies to produce sanitizing solutions — used for everything from cleaning the hands of nervous shut-ins to disinfecting hospital wards contaminated by the coronavirus.

Stocks of isopropanol, 1-propanol and ethanol — key ingredients used in biocidal products, which kill viruses and bacteria — are running low, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), leading to worries that products important in preventing the spread of the coronavirus will become more expensive and scarce.

To help speed up the manufacture and supply of disinfectants, ECHA said on Tuesday it will support countries and a growing number of manufacturers jumping into the business — many of them alcoholic beverage companies.

“The industry is really looking at how to keep the supply going and the demand is, of course, very high,” Peter van der Zandt, director of risk management at ECHA, said in a telephone interview. “We have expertise … to deal with the substances and the quality requirements.”

“We were reading that there was a shortage of alcohol on the market, and we have alcohol so we thought it would be easy — but it turned out not to be so easy” — Fleur Poets, AB InBevs Europe corporate affairs director

Disinfectants are normally heavily regulated under the EUs Biocidal Products Regulation and need authorization before being placed on the market. To circumvent that lengthy and complex process, countries are encouraged to give time-limited derogations to companies that want to help produce hygiene products.

Germany, Austria and Denmark among others have already announced some measures to make it easier for companies to start producing medical disinfectants.

Single standard

But companies warn that without a common EU-wide approach it remains difficult for newcomers to shift their production.

“We were reading that there was a shortage of alcohol on the market, and we have alcohol so we thought it would be easy — but it turned out not to be so easy,” said Fleur Poets, Europes corporate affairs director for AB InBev, the worlds biggest brewer.

On Monday, the Belgium-based company announced it would ship some 50,000 liters of disinfectant made with alcohol removed from its alcohol-free beers for use in hospitals in several European countries starting Wednesday.

The surplus alcohol is sent to Germany where its heated to get rid of the beer smell and then transported to Belgium to be bottled and distributed in various countries. For all these steps the company needs permission from national capitals.

“Some countries are doing this very quickly and effectively, and have made adjustments to allow new players to put those biocidal products on the market, but some have not done so at all,” said Poets.

The Netherlands, for example, only relaxed its rules for two companies — barring more players from entering the market.

Other companies that make highly concentrated ethanol or other alcohols have also stepped forward to either supply ingredients or make anti-bacterial liquids or gels.

Diageo — a British alcoholic beverage company whose brands include Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff — will support the production of more than 8 million bottles of hand sanitizer by donating up to 2 million liters of alcohol to manufacturing partners.

In Poland, boosting sanitizer production has sparked a conflict between new and old manufacturers.

This includes 500,000 litres of grain neutral spirit — a 96 percent-strength ethyl alcohol used primarily to make vodka and gin — to be made available for national healthcare systems and workers in the U.K. and Ireland, and 100,000 liters for Italy.

In Germany, liquor manufacturer Jägermeister will provide the pharmacy of Braunschweig Hospital with 50,000 liters of alcohol to produce disinfectants. The Becks brewery in Bremen will make disinfectants with alcohol left over from its production of alcohol-free beer.

Clean competition

In Poland, boosting sanitizer production has sparked a conflict between new and old manufacturers.

The government suspended excise taxes for companies producing disinfectant solutions from ethyl alcohol from Monday to this Friday — a measure that only applies to producers supplying the governments Material Reserve Agency and itRead More – Source