Friday, December 11, 2020

Surface Cleaning in Response to COVID-19 is Hygiene Theater

Joseph G. Allen, an associate professor and director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Charles Haas, professor of environmental engineering at Drexel University and Linsey C. Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, write in The Washington Post:

We don’t have a single documented case of covid-19 transmission from surfaces. Not one.

So why, then, are we spending a small fortune to deep clean our offices, schools, subways and buses?

Business leaders, school districts and government officials often ask us whether people are over-cleaning in response to the pandemic. The short answer is yes. The reality is that the novel coronavirus spreads mainly through the air. Especially with regular hand-washing, there’s no need to constantly disinfect surfaces...

First, the virus must be transmitted to a surface, either by a sick person touching it or a respiratory droplet landing on it. Once on the surface, the virus starts to decay, and the only studies that show that the virus can survive on a surface for a long time used unrealistically large amounts of it — as in, someone spits a blob of saliva on the surface. The coronavirus’s genetic material has been found on all kinds of surfaces in hospitals and in the air, but, interestingly, it has only been successfully cultured from the air. No data studies that we are aware of have cultured the virus from surfaces.

Even if you were the unfortunate person who immediately grabbed a door handle right after an infectious person sneezed on it, there would be a significant reduction in how much is transferred from the surface onto your hand. Then, time is your friend again, inactivating the virus, even while on your hand.

But what if you touched that contaminated doorknob and then immediately touched your mouth? Not all of the virus on the hand would get transferred to the mouth, and that’s not even the end of the story. The virus that did make it into your mouth would need to find an appropriate receptor there or make it to your respiratory tract.

When we look at this entire causal chain, it’s easy to see that if fomite transmission is happening, it’s minor and certainly not driving the pandemic...

The intense focus on fomite transmission is a critical issue because organizations are spending massive amounts of time — and money — addressing a ghost problem. An organization one of us has worked with that provides care for the homeless has spent nearly $150,000 on cleaning costs since July — over and above what it normally spends. A large commercial real estate firm we spoke with said it is spending $250,000 per month on these extra services. On top of that, the use of all of these extra cleaning products releases chemicals into the air that can be harmful to our health.

Much of this is hygiene theater. If the enhanced cleaning was keeping people safe, we’d be all for it. 



  1. The Hygiene Hypothesis
    – that modern civilization has become too clean – is backed up with strong evidence and data. The C-19 hysteria has caused us to do the opposite of what is best for us in a number of ways. Hyper cleanliness is just one of them.

    1. If you think modern civilization has become too clean, then you will rejoice at the filthy, third world hordes overrunning it.

  2. The Covid responses are one of the all time malinvestmets.

    Testing everyone... malinvestment
    Masks for everyone... malinvestment
    Disinfecting every surface... malinvestment
    Expanding the connection surface of every company's remote access network to accomodate work from hom... malinvestment
    Vaccines for a virus with a ~99.98% global population survival rate... malinvestment

    Remember all of these reactions are not free market first reactions. The market supplies masks, for example, but only as malinvestment in earnest once the governments started mandating their use.

    We could go on and on. Have we ever seen a greater diversion of productive capacity into the most stupid and pointless efforts in the history of mankind?

    David B.

  3. This is all because of Big Cleaning Fluid.

  4. Its called CovidTheater and is highly tailored propaganda to keep fear leverage attached to the constructed and groomed crisis.