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Covid-19: ECHA and industry respond to disinfectant shortages

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Commission have announced plans to help EU member states and industry to address disinfectant shortages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This has recently become a critical issue in many EU markets.

“It is essential to ensure that there are enough disinfectants available for health professionals and European citizens,” said Bjorn Hansen, executive director of ECHA. “The main limiting factor seems to be the availability of active substances used in these biocidal products – in particular isopropanol, 1-propanol and ethanol.”

The agency added that deadlines for certain processes will also be handled flexibly, including invoice payments. Companies will receive an extension of two months where they have initially failed to provide a complete registration for their chemicals and were granted a final deadline between March and May 2020, as well as for requests for further information related to confidentiality claims.

An extension of 30 days will also apply for companies to comment on ECHA’s draft decisions in cases where a registration has been considered incompliant with legal requirements, ECHA said. Further details about concrete actions are expected shortly.

Meanwhile, multiple companies on both sides of the Atlantic have been ramping up capacity to address specific need by increasing or even diversifying into the production of disinfectants and hand sanitisers to meet growing demand.

In Germany, where hand sanitisers are in critically short supply, the Federal Ministry of Health has asked industry for help and two of the largest chemical companies have acted to supply regional needs. Neither had hitherto been producers in their own right but had been suppliers of raw materials.