Anne Caravel, manager of the Exotic Garden Pharmacy in Monaco, tells us how her pharmacy deals with the shortage of antibacterial gel in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m Anne Caravel, I’m the owner of the Exotic Garden Pharmacy.
Today I’m talking to you about the current events, since it’s really the manufacture of the antibacterial gel, given the fact that industrialists have had difficulty in keeping up with the rush that there has been on these products. Following the coronavirus epidemic, pharmacists were authorised in the Principality to make their own gels.
What is its purpose?
The purpose is to be able to disinfect your hands outside the house. Normally, at home, by washing your hands conscientiously with soap for 2 minutes, you will be able to disinfect them really well. On the other hand, when you are in the street, when you take the elevator, when you press the elevator button, when you use your credit card, when you take the bus – you will touch a lot of things that are dirty. So, it’s important to regularly wash your hands with antibacterial gel to make sure you don’t contaminate your respiratory tract by touching your face.
How is it made?
We’ve got 90% alcohol, we’ve got hydrogen peroxide and we’ve got glycerol. We are going to mix all this in the quantities recommended by the WHO and this will give us an antibacterial gel made in a pharmacy.
Glycerol is really to allow the skin not to be too “attacked” by alcohol at 90°, which is still tonic on the skin, so it is an emollient agent. Whereas the hydrogen peroxide is there to complete the spectrum of actions made by the alcohol and especially to be able to kill all the spores that could be present in the formula when this formula is left to rest for 72 hours.
Can you make it yourself?
Can you make it at home? It’s difficult, because you already have 90% alcohol, which is medicinal alcohol and therefore hard to obtain, since you cannot deliver it as it is. And then, there are all the problems of it being out-of-stock at the moment. The first one is the bottling: we have no more bottles. I ran out of vials over a month ago, as soon as there was the epidemic in China. I had a feeling and I said to myself: “We’ll have to bring in more vials and alcohol”. The bottles are out-of-stock everywhere and if I have a piece of advice for the people of the Principality: “Keep your bottles, because we can always fill them up!”
Do we risk a gel shortage?
We mustn’t panic. We’ve got the labs that can produce alcohol on a regular basis, so we’ll get some. I don’t think we should go into panic mode. On the other hand, you have to tell yourself that you won’t be able to buy a bottle of antibacterial gel the day before for the following day. You have to anticipate a little bit, so when you get to the end, and because people don’t yet know how much they’re going to use, it’s not in our culture to pass your hands with alcohol all the time. You have to do it with common sense, you don’t have to worry. Other pharmacies in the Principality also produce alcohol. Laboratories have also started up production again. I’m not at all pessimistic, we just have to organise ourselves to buy some on time.