Circa late 2019, an unwanted guest made its way into our world, and changed it forever. A tiny virus crippled the world and showed us how powerless we can be. Unprecedented events unfolded, bringing the world to a standstill. Economies crashed and health systems went for a toss as the world braved a pandemic. Covid 19, became a game-changer, ushering in a paradigm shift in different areas of human endeavours.
Over the last two to three years, all we have done is build resistance, shield ourselves, take precautions, follow healthy diet regimens, understand the meaning and importance of a frugal lifestyle, and above everything else, try to fight our way back. Every nation put its best foot forward to ameliorate the health scare, and devise measures to deal with this global crisis. Vaccines were manufactured in record time, and concerted efforts were made to ensure their distribution to people free of cost. Although a large part of the population across the globe has been administered with the vaccine, it has not been able to effectively contain the spread of the virus.
The Importance of COVID Tests
One of the key risk mitigation measures unanimously agreed to by the majority of policymakers was for people to get tested regularly. Testing has remained crucial to the core of the fight against the pandemic. Both rapid and RT-PCR tests have been around since the onset of the pandemic. While Rapid Tests provide quick results and help with the diagnoses of COVID in a very short timeframe, PCR tests tend to take a couple of hours for the results to be known. The biggest challenge for both types of tests has been individuals having to reach the test centres in person, which in many cases limits accessibility.
Furthermore, with the virus mutating to form new variants like Delta and Omicron, there has been surges in cases, making tests arduous tasks for stakeholders. Cashing in on the opportunity, enterprises introduced self-test kits that are now on a roll in most markets. It is needless to mention that people who are always ready to make a profit, even at the cost of a global crisis and human lives also introduced counterfeited self-test kits onto the market.
Organizations like the United States Federal Drug Administration (US FDA) has been sending warnings of fake COVID test kits and fraudulent Covid-19 treatments such as the one below:
“While we remain vigilant to protect our families and communities from COVID-19, some people might be tempted to buy or use questionable products that claim to help diagnose, treat, cure, and even prevent coronavirus disease.”
In a bid to help people spot such criminal counterfeiting activities, and to ensure their safety, the US Federal Drug Administration launched an anti-fake drive. The campaign includes warnings about illegal products that have no FDA approval. It goes on further to explain how to spot fake Coronavirus test kits, fake COVID treatments, as well as fake vaccines.
The Increasing Demand for At-home Covid Test Kits
Given the convenience and privacy the at-home Covid 19 test kits guarantee, they have become a rage so much so that people are flocking to medical stores to purchase them thus creating a situation where demand is beginning to outweigh supply. The scarcity and limited supply of these at-home test kits is beginning to force people to ditch retailers, and instead resort to online marketplaces – this is where the counterfeiting game starts to unfold.
We are aware of how the dynamics of trade has met an overhaul in the wake of the pandemic, with people preferring online marketplaces like never before. This has become manifest in the COVID testing market with an escalation in demand for at-home test kits and their scarcity in various local markets, people are now looking at online marketplaces to purchase them. Individuals involved in the illegal trade of counterfeited products realizing the huge demand for the at-home test kits and the limited supply of same, have gotten busy by making up the supply shortfalls with the introduction of fakes. This creates an unpleasant situation where consumers are falling prey to counterfeited home test-kits. What people fail to understand is, for the most parts, e-commerce sites are open platforms that allow anybody to sell their products without any guarantee of authenticity.
The Ignorance of Consumers, a Bliss for Counterfeiters
The lack of awareness on the part of consumers plays very much to the advantage of home test kit counterfeiters. Most people are ignorant of the basic features that test kits come with, hence making it is easy for them to fall prey to anything packed in a box. Tests undertaken with such counterfeited kits do not only create a risk of jeopardising the lives of the individuals undertaking them, but they also put the safety and health of others at risk. The FDA is particularly concerned that such counterfeited and misleading products could cause people to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment for Covid-19, leading to serious and even life-threatening harm. People using these counterfeited test kits will inadvertently become vehicles for spreading Covid-19 by not getting detected properly because of the erroneous results obtained from these fake test kits.
Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue
With so many counterfeited test kits floating on the market, the chances of most of us getting duped are fairly high. However, technological advancements can be put to use so as to keep such scams at bay. Imagine using Artificial Intelligence to discern between authentic and fake products – Cypheme is doing just that. It is the only anti-counterfeit solution that is ISO 12931 qualified, and it provides brands, manufacturers, and governments with algorithm-powered labels supported by a robust Artificial Intelligence technology. Cypheme’s solution comes with a fingerprint label which ensures that the authenticity of products can be verified within seconds. The best part of the technology is that the fingerprint labels are unique to each product thus making it almost impossible to copy, reproduce, or duplicate. The technology is currently being used extensively across the globe in diverse industries.
Beyond the protection of physical products, Cypheme also has an online brand protection solution for manufacturers who prefer online marketplaces for the sale of their test kits. The online brand protection solution helps to safeguard brands from the activities of counterfeiters, and it ensures that consumers only purchase the originals of your products online.
It is imperative that test kit manufacturers begin to employ the latest and most progressive technologies to prevent a situation where consumers are driven to the brinks of health disasters. It is high time product owners became more proactive in the fight against counterfeiters.