Retailers up and down the UK have been experiencing a shortage of antibacterial gel products since the start of the month, amid national coronavirus fears. In February alone, it’s estimated that hand sanitiser sales were up 255% and some sellers were reported to hike up prices by up to 5,000%.
The NHS and Public Health England report that hand sanitiser is one of the most effective ways for people to protect themselves when in public. There have been questions and a lack of information surrounding when and where people will be able to buy antibacterial gel at normal market prices.
One online retailer, Chemist 4 U, has reported that it will be replenishing stocks on Tuesday 17th March.
Founder of Chemist 4 U, Shamir Patel, said: ‘Stocks of antibacterial gel have been diminishing over the past couple of weeks. We received unprecedented demand for it, selling 15,000 litres of hand gel within 48 hours. Manufacturers are working hard to replenish stocks, and at Chemist 4 U, we will be receiving 20,000 units per day from Tuesday 17th March. It is a 100ml 60% alcohol hand sanitiser which will be sold at £5.99 in packs of 1, 3, 6, and 12.
‘The cost of goods has increased dramatically, but we will not be passing this cost implication onto our customers. We have priced this low to ensure we can supply the country with good quality hand gel, at a reasonable price, in large quantities. People can sign up to our newsletter for updates on stock arrival.’
In a statement, he also advised which other products can help prevent the spread of coronavirus. He said: ‘Aside from antibacterial gel, there are other products which you are able to carry around with you to help protect you from coronavirus. When it comes to keeping your hands clean and avoiding touching your face, antibacterial wipes are a handy alternative. They are effective from 10 seconds – less time than washing your hands with soap. They are also great for cleaning down surfaces such as phones and wheelchairs.’
He also advised people to be sensible when it comes to stockpiling: ‘Most global manufacturers of drugs are affected in some way by supply chain shortages, and are consequently restricting exports of over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol. Most medications rely on China for their active ingredients, and there are worries that if China remains in lockdown, there will be further and more severe widespread shortages. This is worsened by the fact that tablets are compounded in India, a country which has banned the export of paracetamol.
‘However, at this stage, it’s a calm situation. Pharmacies and suppliers have enough provisions to last for months, so there’s no need to panic. But with that being said, it is a good idea for people – especially elderly or those at higher-risk – to ensure that they have enough medication in case they need to stay at home for prolonged periods of time. For those who have concerns about visiting a pharmacy, it is possible to register with an online pharmacy and order prescriptions digitally. It’s a simple process where the pharmacy will talk directly to your GP surgery and get it delivered to your door.’
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