Thursday, July 15, 2021

I Love Me Some Chlorine Bleach - But Clorox Needs To Be Shot With Hot Pee For This!

undark  |  As a second wave of Covid-19 infections tore through the United States in the summer of 2020, a partnership was forged between the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s premiere medical centers, and the Clorox Company, the California-based ­­­­­­­maker of surface disinfectants. Sales of Clorox products had been soaring since the beginning of the pandemic, when public health agencies were still warning that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, could lurk on surfaces, sickening people who touched them. The company’s stock was also soaring, and at times it struggled to keep up with demand.

Under the partnership, the company and the clinic would co-produce public health guidelines to help the public navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. The arrangement continued into March of this year, when the CDC Foundation — an independent nonprofit chartered by Congress to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — joined the group. Their ongoing campaign, the Clorox Safer Today Alliance, includes ads for the brand that bear the Cleveland Clinic and CDC Foundation logos. The Alliance advises companies — including United Airlines and AMC Theatres — and individuals on navigating Covid-19 reopening, with an emphasis on disinfecting surfaces. 

This seemingly benevolent union in the name of public health has a problem, critics say: a lack of compelling evidence that surface disinfection plays any significant role in halting the spread of Covid-19. Despite early speculation among experts that surface contact was a key mode of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and subsequent rush among consumers to purchase cleaning products at the outset of the pandemic, the science supporting frequent surface disinfection as a response to Covid-19 has largely faltered, many experts say.

Indeed, after nearly 18 months of investigation, most scientists believe that airborne transmission is the chief concern, and that overuse of surface disinfectants may well do more harm than good. “Your efforts at cleaning are better spent towards cleaning the air than cleaning the surfaces,” said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and a prominent expert on Covid-19 transmission.

Given this, the continued relationship between two major public health organizations and the Clorox Company — which appears well positioned to profit from a particular interpretation of the science — has some critics raising pointed questions about the appropriateness of the arrangement and the misleading messages it might send to consumers. It also comes amid ongoing scrutiny by experts and advocates of the effects of corporate donations on scientific research and public health. Clorox donated $1 million to the Cleveland Clinic this spring, and a press release for the Safer Today Alliance notes that the company also donated $1 million to the CDC Foundation in early 2020.

 

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