January 21, 2021

What is Biosecurity and Why Does it Matter?

We now live in a new reality. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been left wondering how to keep their employees and customers safe. Even though vaccine distribution is now underway, we cannot rely on vaccines alone to return life to normal.

For starters, the vaccine does not work instantly, and while the 90+% effectiveness is truly a medical marvel, it is not 100%. Furthermore, while it has been shown to prevent severe symptoms in these high percentages, it has not yet been proven if  vaccine recipients will carry the virus and transmit it to others. In addition, there are many people - including those who are immunocompromised - that are unable to participate in the vaccine, and will remain at great risk for the virus.  Moving forward, for us to safely visit people and places, society will need to address the indoor air we breathe and the surfaces we commonly touch. Why? Because the current virus is transmitted through droplets that can fall on surfaces and are aerosolized and suspended in the air.

Biosecurity, by definition, is the methods and processes taken to prevent the spread of infection between humans. This is intentionally broad, as a wide range of potential methods allows a variety of potential solutions. You may have incorporated a biosecurity measure in your life over the past year without even realizing it, whether it be by opening a window while in a car or wearing a mask when out in public. In some cases,  biosecurity measures may be easy to implement, but still can make a significant difference in infection control. 

Biosecurity has become and will continue to be increasingly important on an enterprise-scale, as businesses attempt to lure their employees back into the office, their patrons back into their restaurants, and their customers into their stores. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how susceptible we are as a society to the spread of infectious disease, and the need for proactive biosecurity planning. 

While COVID-19 may have exposed existing deficiencies and catalyzed this new movement towards heightened biosecurity, having the right tools and protections in place will help to prevent illnesses well beyond the coronavirus.  By implementing measures like touchless appliances, portable air cleaners, UVC air purification systems and upgraded filters, spaces can help reduce even the most common pathogens such as the cold and seasonal flu, as well as any unknown future infection threats. 

The implementation of these measures will be critical for businesses in the post-pandemic world, as will the communication of them to employees and customers. The former provides true protection for stakeholders, while the latter gives all parties confidence in their indoor environment. Employees are thus more likely to perform at their best and customers will feel compelled to return.  This cannot be over-emphasized: facilities and businesses that create trust in their employees and customers will thrive, while those  who do not have that level of assurance will certainly hesitate to return.