How Bioguard became an invisible but effective ally against Covid-19

One potent weapon in the fight against Covid-19 comes from somewhere you might not expect: the banknote printing industry. Bioguard is a treatment invented 15 years ago for combatting viruses, bacteria and microscopic fungi on banknotes. Tests conducted last year by the solution’s creator, security printer Oberthur Fiduciaire, clinically demonstrated its efficacy against coronavirus.

But it turns out, the invention can do far more than simply protect money.

Bioguard is a treatment that is used on banknotes, both the paper before printing and/or in a post-print varnish. For a number of years prior to the pandemic, the technology was helping to reduce risks of virus, fungal and bacterial infection on banknotes in climates where they represent a higher risk for people, such as in tropical conditions: heat and humidity cause pathogens to grow more quickly.

The trademarked process was more recently tested against coronavirus in collaboration with Biological Consulting Services (BCS), a U.S-based laboratory specialised in the field of pathogen analysis. BCS is accredited by ANSI National Accreditation Board, the largest accreditation body in North America and by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.

Together, the two partners conducted experimentation that concluded a test coronavirus, OC43 — a relative of the virus that causes Covid-19 — was “diminished by between 100 and 1000-fold.”

The laboratory tests measured the viruses that survived after five hours on both a regular paper sample and on one with the same composition that had been treated with Bioguard. On the untreated paper, 92.4% of the viruses died after five hours, while on the sample treated with Bioguard, more than 99.9% of them were destroyed.

One of the developers of the technology, Henri Rosset, who is manager of the research center at VHP Security Paper, a subsidiary of Oberthur Fiduciaire, explained : “All viruses die naturally on banknotes, like any other inert material. What Bioguard does is to accelerate the dying process”, adding that the Bioguard treatment has even been also tested to demonstrate its effectiveness against different bacteria.

Broadening applications

One characteristic of the treatment that makes it so powerful is that it shows no signs of altering the qualities of the surfaces to which it is applied. The solution causes no health or safety issues, and banknotes treated with Bioguard have the same durability, feel, and appearance as those that are unprotected.

This has allowed the company to widen the scope of Bioguard technology, now encompassing the full array of possible use cases. Bioguard & Co is the subsidiary of Oberthur Fiduciaire dedicated to this strategic new activity, and benefits from the R&D resources and international reputation of its parent company.

“In this time of crisis, the group has built on its well proven Bioguard™ technology to develop an effective anti-viral treatment. They have made the technology available to all applicable fields,” the company states on its website.

This development makes Bioguard a useful tool in any return to normality. Soon it could be protecting anything from the tables and menus in restaurants, documents and packaging to surfaces in transportation systems and computer screens in children’s schools — virtually anywhere that high-touch surfaces pose a potential risk.

Through its specific Bioguard & Co subsidiary, tailor-made formulae are developed for manufacturers who wish to use the anti-viral solution for the first time in their own production processes. Through deployment in many fields and a visible label applied on protected goods, Bioguard could go some way towards bringing back public confidence.

With more infectious variants of the coronavirus challenging our assumptions about any return to normality, the world needs to look to every technical field to maximise its chances. And Bioguard is just one powerful tool among many that could make these hopes a reality. According to the Collins Dictionary, “Resilience” is the word of the year. Technologies like Bioguard could be one way of living up to this motto.

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