Chemicals firm Ineos says is to open a new plant on Teesside within 10 days capable of producing one million bottles of hand sanitiser per month.
It made the announcement as the government appeals for firms to produce goods, such as ventilators, that are vital for the NHS as it battles the coronavirus crisis.
Ineos, which already produces rubber gloves, PVC saline drips, syringes, ventilators and medical tubing, said the cleaning product it would produce just outside Middlesbrough would be given to the health service free of charge.
It intends to make standard and pocket bottles for use on wards and by health professionals.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder and chairman of Ineos who also holds the accolade of being Britain’s richest man, said: “Ineos is a company with enormous resources and manufacturing skills.
“If we can find other ways to help in the coronavirus battle, we are absolutely committed to playing our part.”
There is a shortage of hand sanitisers currently given huge demand worldwide.
Dyson, best known for its bag-less vacuum cleaners, is among other companies to have answered the plea for more ventilators as resources are stretched.
The firm, founded by Sir James Dyson, has its research base in the UK.
A Dyson spokesman said: “Dyson has responded to the government’s request for support with its Covid-19 response by focusing resources into the design and manufacture of a ventilator for the NHS.
“This is a highly complex project being undertaken in an extremely challenging timeframe.
“We have deployed expertise in air movement, motors, power systems, manufacturing and supply chain and are working with medical technology and development company TTP, The Technology Partnership, based in Cambridge.”
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