Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand in surgical masks has exploded. This rising demand has created an opportunity for counterfeiters to produce and sell fake masks. There must be means to instantly verify the authenticity of a surgical mask.

 

Counterfeit surgical masks: a big issue

It is extremely difficult to educate the general public which surgical masks should be used under which circumstances. Some masks, like the N95, which should be reserved to health professionals, have also been extensively bought by consumers who would like to obtain the best possible protection. This led us to a situation where not enough of those masks were available. This is  a perfect incubator for counterfeits and, while it is hard to believe, even governments bought fake masks for hospital workers.

The problem with fake masks is that they put health professionals and, as a consequence, the whole system at risk. Indeed, even if it looks extremely simple, a mask is more than just a piece of paper. It is tested and certified in order to ensure a required level of protection. Fake surgical masks do not have the proper level of filtering and therefore do not provide the protection the user needs.

 

Avoiding counterfeit surgical masks – current solutions

Currently, in order to be sure to get a genuine surgical mask, you should buy it from authorized resellers. However, due to high demand and the urgency of the requests, this is not always possible, creating a big risk of buying counterfeit masks.

Information is all over the web to help distinguish a genuine from a fake mask. Some websites propose to analyze the packaging visually.  Some other web sites even propose burning the masks, which could be dangerous. All these solutions rely on a user’s ability to follow some complicated instructions and, therefore, may even be counterproductive.

 

Effective yet simple way to protect masks

Masks are generally not sold individually but in folding boxes or plastic bags. Those containers are suited perfectly to use AlpVision Cryptoglyph for counterfeit protection. This solution does not require any change to the manufacturer’s printing process and can be applied by current print suppliers. The authentication is done using a dedicated App on a smartphone.

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