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Covid-19: Oberthur Fiduciaire successfully tackles contagion


10/20/2021


Companies have been coming to terms with the new challenges to business operations since the Covid-19 crisis began over 18 months ago. Some organisations have even directly contributed to the fight through their ideas, solutions, and technologies. The security printer Oberthur Fiduciaire found a way to protect users of its banknotes from infection. And further development of its solution has opened up a host of other use cases.

While vaccines against Covid-19 are available to many people, the difficulty in deployment, public acceptance, scaling, and adapting to new strains, such as the Delta variant, present additional hurdles to authorities and healthcare organisations. During the ongoing global inoculation drive, other solutions are needed to ensure that the spread of the virus is kept in check.

Reducing the propagation of the virus on surfaces is one way to do this.

For 15 years, Oberthur Fiduciaire, has been offering a treatment named Bioguard that eliminates all traces of virus, fungus, and bacteria from banknotes. Security printing is an incredibly technical and technological domain: innovation is part of normal operations.

“Our teams developed a treatment that was constantly tested and improved in order to make the surface of banknotes ‘hostile’ to bacteria, viruses and other microscopic fungi – without having any negative impact on humans,” explains Oberthur Fiduciaire’s general manager, Etienne Couëlle.

Originally devised in the wake of the avian flu crisis, Bioguard has been in use and updated regularly since then. It is completely safe for people and comes with no environmental concerns. Most crucially of all, the treatment has proved extremely effective against coronavirus.

A secret weapon

In March 2020, an independent laboratory tested the Bioguard treatment and found that it was particularly effective against the coronavirus OC43, a cousin of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Viral concentration on surfaces was diminished 100- to 1000-fold, compared to those not treated. Bioguard can be applied while banknotes are being printed, as a post-printing varnish or directly integrated into the paper production process.
 
"This is an additional safeguard that should put an end to scientifically unfounded fears,” Couëlle says.
 
Thanks to Bioguard, banknotes are safer than ever. Promisingly, the technology also shows versatility: it is now being used outside of the security printing industry.
 
Broader applications

Bioguard has been improved and can be used on more than just banknotes. The company offers the solution for applications on different materials through its subsidiary Bioguard & Co, successfully bringing the fight to other industries.

The biocide treatment can be applied to the surfaces of many kinds of objects and common surfaces. This is a revolutionary solution for office spaces as it pre-emptively disinfects desks, tables, and handles, reducing workplace risks of viral transmission. The same is true of the solutions use in sports centres or on public transport. Shared spaces and equipment offer a lot of opportunity for viruses and bacteria to spread amongst the population, so in these environments Bioguard could have a significant impact.

It can also be integrated into production processes for digital devices with touchscreens, creating products that durably fight transmissibility as soon as they are out of the box.

And, going back to Bioguards roots in banknote printing, the treatment can be integrated into printing practices in a multitude of other industries. Its activity against viruses, bacteria and fungi can ensure packaging and paper manufacturing, for instance, are free of contamination risks, for both staff and customers.

Coronavirus is certainly not the last pandemic the world will see. There is a need to tackle the ongoing crisis, but we also need to be better prepared for the incidents to come; vaccines will always take time to develop. Oberthur Fiduciaire’s solution not only contributes to public safety, reducing the need to decontaminate objects, but it also prepares industries for the battle against future pathogens.

Countering viruses before they arrive requires that we think about all aspects of how society operates. This begins with protecting surfaces with in-built features that make it harder for bacteria and viruses to propagate and pass themselves on to people. With Bioguard & Co making Bioguard available to all applicable fields, the solution stands a better chance of reaching its potential and protecting people around the world — maybe even from the next pandemic.