While Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has always been a vital part of the healthcare supply chain, it has recently transcended into an essential commodity that everyone needs. This recent change has sparked a global “gold-rush” for PPE, creating havoc in its supply chain, pricing, and availability. As countries, hospitals, retailers, and new emerging brokers’ appetite for PPE was increasing sharply; N95 masks, KN95 masks, gowns, and other important items became scarce. As it commonly happens in cases of uncontrolled demand, quantity came over quality, and an enormous wave of counterfeit PPE flooded the markets.

For example – from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and up to June 30th, tens of millions of counterfeit face masks were seized in the US alone. An article by The Shift reported that “The European Commission’s Safety Gate rapid alert system” found that during the same period there were 95 different alerts of potentially/confirmed counterfeited PPE shipments from at least 67 different kinds of masks brands.  Just this week, arrests were made in Norway for selling nonsterile face masks in boxes of sterile face masks.

These are just a few examples, and many more reports of counterfeit, or low-quality face masks and other PPE can be found. Not to mention that it is likely that most counterfeits are unfortunately never discovered.

When it comes to PPE and respiratory face masks, we should aspire to eventually apply the same level of quality standards that are used in the Pharma industry. Product validation and authenticity are crucial as It’s practically a matter of human life. 

Are all PPE products the same?

Sadly not. researchers from Duke’s physics department demonstrated a method that uses a laser beam and cell phone to evaluate mask efficiency and the transmission of respiratory droplets during normal speech. Speaking, as one would suspect, did indeed produce plenty of droplets, but the shocking part was that the material used in some masks made things worse by breaking the droplets into smaller droplets. This means that not only were there more respiratory particles in the air, but that they were smaller, and could linger in the air for a longer time than in the case where no mask was worn at all.  

Other experiments demonstrated that high-quality face-masks can efficiently filter >99.5% of the potential virus-carrying droplets that are released into the air when sneezing or speaking.

Similar examples are available when it comes to medical gowns and nitrile gloves.

So when it comes to PPE, inferior products are sometimes worse than no protection at all. The importance of high-quality PPE and masks can make a difference.

PPE products with added Value are here

The good news is that despite a chaotic starting point solutions for this uncontrolled and potentially life-risking situation are available, plausible, and affordable.

To make sure that the PPE supply chain is always under control, Dotz Nano, a company that specializes in product authentication and brand protection solutions for high-end products and articles, has harnessed its unique authentication technology and developed the “Secured by Dotz” solution for PPE, which employs multiple digital and physical security elements. 

Using the “secured by Dotz” solution, the product can be authenticated anywhere throughout the supply chain, by a simple scan using a mobile phone. Once a user scans the product, it is directed to a secure web-site that provides information on the product’s origin, journey, compliance, certificates, etc. Furthermore, the “Secured by Dotz” software platform is also able to tell the user if the product is sold in an authorized territory, and by an authorized retailer. The second part of the solution is a unique chemical marker on the product, that can only be authenticated using a special detector provided by Dotz.

Dr. Yoni Engel, VP of Business development and product at Dotz said: “While end consumers use our solution to know more about the product and secure themselves and their loved ones, organizations may be at risk of recall or liability due to counterfeit of inferior products entering their supply chains or sold illegally under their brand name. Our solution, for the first time in this industry, can provide end-2-end authenticity and transparency for the entire PPE supply chain, down to the end consumer. It features similar standards to the ones applied in the pharmaceutical industry, but with some variations and customizations that make it accessible, cost-effective, and efficient for the PPE industry. We are proud to be a part of the global effort to protect the public against the coronavirus ” 

The solution is easy to implement; It can be added to an item using a non-peel label, or by printing directly on the item during production. This enables producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers to trace and verify the authenticity of the product unequivocally, in real-time, through a simple and secure smart-phone app or/and easy to use dedicated detectors.

The “Secured by Dotz” solution is already being implemented in the USA, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Hong Kong, and a few other countries for various PPE manufacturers and retailers looking to help secure their supply chains and to create market differentiation. 

The market is flooded with counterfeited PPE but the solutions are here as well. Manufacturers, distributors, and retail companies that will implement them will get an edge over the competitors and will provide a new kind of security that consumers desperately need. 

The “Secured by Dotz” solution enables producers and distributors to differentiate their  PPE products from the crowd and offer premium, authentic and effective PPE products that can save lives. 

Dotz Tech is a technology leader in research, production, and marketing of anti-counterfeiting, authentication, and tracing solutions.

The company’s unique products ValiDotz™, BioDotz™, Fluorensic™, and InSpec™ are exceptional solutions for numerous applications, such as anti-counterfeiting, brand & reputation protection, oil & gas industry, liquids tagging, lubricants authentication, polymers tagging, and bio-imaging, as well as a new ability being developed for in-plant-tagging.

Rebecca Lambert
Author: Rebecca Lambert


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