How the Market for Antiviral Solutions Has Erupted During the Pandemic

The seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread economic and social chaos across the globe. It has been nothing short of a disaster for many sectors, causing catastrophic disruptions in supply chains, leaving millions furloughed and governments rushing to roll out vaccination programs in the full face of public scrutiny.

Delta, Beta… New variants seem to be appearing and spreading with striking regularity, jeopardising efforts to reopen economies and once again posing a real risk to public health, especially amongst the unvaccinated. Companies have therefore been rushing to find effective solutions to combat the continued spread of the virus, most notably antiviral and anti-fungal solutions to prevent surface transmission.

Preventing surface-to-human transmission has been one of the biggest challenges since the outbreak of the pandemic in late 2019. Although we still do not fully understand the modus operandi of the virus, the World Health Organisation has nonetheless highlighted the danger of infection via surfaces, as well as poorly ventilated indoor rooms and crowded settings.

Some firms have promoted pre-existing solutions while others have been working hard developing new products with varying degrees of effectiveness. Some technologies put forward have been shown to have little effect on the virus, while others have proven highly efficient. There is no doubt in any case that the market for antiviral solutions has on the whole managed to avoid the crippling economic consequences of the pandemic…

Bioguard: Oberthur Fiduciaire’s Antiviral Solution Proves Effective

As such, from the very beginning of the pandemic there was a concerted effort in the fiduciary industry to tackle the threat of transmission via banknotes, the Bank of China famously having begun isolating and disinfecting banknotes in early 2020.

In spite of these concerns, the Bank of England published a study highlighting the “low risk” of viral (or bacterial) transmission via banknotes, but firms nonetheless began to promote solutions to further reduce risks and ease apprehensions.

The French banknote printer Oberthur Fiduciaire, for example, extolled its pre-existing Bioguard technology as a ready-made antiviral solution perfect for combatting the spread of coronavirus on banknotes and other surfaces.

The Bioguard solution was designed by Bioguard & Co., a subsidiary of Oberthur Ficuciaire to be applied both as a paper treatment and a post-printing varnish, reducing the viral or bacterial concentration by a factor of 100 to 1000. Billions of banknotes have been equipped with Bioguard for years.

The technical solution works long-term against fungi, bacteria and viruses and is proven to be safe for both humans and the environment. Moreover, the company has highlighted the product’s effectiveness and durability not just on banknotes, but on a variety of different surfaces that could act as vectors of viral transmission.

Tests carried out have proved that Bioguard was as effective against COVID-19 as it was against other pathogens, virtually wiping out any trace of the OC43 strain known to affect humans. As mentioned above, the solution has, encouragingly, also proved effective on an array of different surface types, from doorhandles to restaurant tables, touchscreens, paper and packaging. Maybe this could prove useful tool to help us return to normality? Bioguard seems to have everything it takes to establish itself as an effective companion in the fight against Covid 19 for millions of people. Fingers crossed…

Allied BioScience – SurfaceWise2: Jumping the Gun

Across the pond, other BioTech companies also began rushing to develop quick-fix solutions to surface transmission. One such was Allied BioScience, who published a press release in August 2020 celebrating the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval of its SurfaceWise2 product, which it extolled as the only existing single-application surface coating to protect against COVID-19. The antiviral, anti-bacterial spray boasts full effectiveness within two hours of application.

“The EPA approval clears the way to begin effectively protecting consumers against COVID-19 as the only solution proven to provide long-term, non-toxic surface protection from the virus,” said Michael Ruley, CEO of Allied BioScience. “We have been eager to bring our product to market and look forward to partnering with leading Texas-based companies to keep Texans safe in the fight against COVID-19.”

American Airlines was one of the first companies to jump at the chance to use the product as part of its “Clean Commitment” strategy to assure the well-being of its customers, in spite of EPA cautioning that the solution was not a replacement for the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommandation.

Alas, in less than a year the EPA retracted its approval, issuing a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO) to AlliedBioscience due to marketing concerns, company misconduct and the publishing of new studies showing questionable effectiveness of the product under real-world conditions. Perhaps over-eagerness to tap into a burgeoning market in a time of economic crisis led to the firm jumping the gun somewhat…

Further Afield: Nanova Hygiene+ – An Indian-Developed Pathogen Repellent

The search for effective surface protection took place across the globe as the sheer magnitude of the global pandemic began to become clear. At the Nova Surface-Care Centre in India, research was carried out to find and create an effective surface coating to repel the virus and resist the transmission to living body cells via touch.

The end product, Nanova Hygiene+, developed specifically to tackle COVID-19, is an “advanced, anti-microbial (anti-viral and bactericidal) which reduces the risk of microbial contamination virtually for all surfaces, including metal, glass, wood, fabrics and plastics by the principle of repelling microbes, offering a non-stick surface to pathogens and self-sanitising for 90 days.”

Testing showed an antiviral efficacy of 99.9% within two hours of application, with the complete disablement of all pathogens on an array of different surfaces, including fabric (masks, gloves, doctor coats, curtains, bed sheets), metal (lifts, doors handles, nobs, railings, public transport), wood (furniture, floors, partition panels), concrete (hospitals, clinics and isolation wards), plastics (switches, kitchen and home appliances).

Validated in 2021, the solution gained recommandations from various reputable organisations and scientists and could prove highly effective in stemming the continued spread of the virus, especially with new, more virulent strains appearing. Another weapon in the struggle for a return to normality…

Trust the Process

Firms worldwide have been working tooth and nail to create, test and make available effective solutions, new and old, to stem the spread of the virus. It is, after all, vital that we overcome this pandemic as quickly and as smoothly as possible, as the severe economic strain begins to be felt across all sectors.

The continued success of the antiviral sector during the pandemic can only be a small positive during such a gloomy crisis. Perhaps we can take solace in the fact that firms have managed to provide an array of effective, or at least promising, solutions to slowly help us out of this pandemic, whether they be pre-existing or newly developed. Such solutions, alongside vaccines, provide some kind of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel…

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