The US Administration decided to fumigate the White House facilities after the departure of Donald Trump. Thus, hours before Joe Biden occupied the presidential residence, a team of workers began to spray disinfectant around the rooms. Last week, the British watched their prime minister, Boris Johnson, go to great lengths to clean the seat of a chair. A year after a new coronavirus subdued the world, too many measures are taken in the face of the gallery. It is the “pandemic theater”, as the researcher Zeynep Tufekci defined it in April 2020 in an article in which she criticized useless and even counterproductive actions, such as closing the parks.
In those first weeks, scientific evidence began to be collected. Some, in a contradictory way. They scandalized photographs of families in gardens and walks, the safest places. Tables were circulating on mobile phones detailing how much the coronavirus could withstand on certain surfaces. It was recommended to clean shoes, groceries and even clothes when returning from the street. But we have known for months that so much effort is not necessary. "I stopped seeing convincing evidence a long time ago and I stopped doing it," explains virologist Margarita del Val about the determination to scrub everything. The possibilities of contagion by surfaces —by fomites, in medical parlance— are slim. The European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) clarifies it as follows : "It is considered possible, although, so far, transmission through fomites has not been documented." The US equivalent, the CDC, says that "Spread through contact with contaminated surfaces is not believed to be a common way of spreading COVID-19."
Already in its recommendations of March 2020, the ECDC only advised cleaning specially manipulated points, such as doorknobs, switches, handrails and elevator buttons, while the Army already fumigated benches and sidewalks in the open air on the streets. The scientist Teresa Moreno, from the IDAEA-CSIC, analyzed the presence of the coronavirus on the bars and buttons of the Barcelona Metro and buses in the months of May and June. "At that time, people thought that contagion occurred more through surfaces," he recalls, but they also took air samples because it is their specialty. They found traces of the virus in both elements, but they were fragments that had no ability to infect. “We found low levels in the air, and it was from when people weren't wearing a mask, so it doesn't seem like a source of infection; I use public transport and I don't feel like I'm going in a dangerous place, ”says Moreno.
The most interesting thing is that there were vehicles that Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona cleaned with bleach and others fumigated with ozone. Those that were disinfected with a cloth and bleach were free of traces of the virus after cleaning, but not the vaporized buses. “We saw that with the ozone cannons it was very difficult for it to spread throughout the vehicle. At low concentrations, ozone does nothing, we kept finding traces. And at very high levels it is not viable because it is very toxic ”, indicates the scientist. "I am concerned about the gadgets that are being offered now, because they are very toxic, they react with materials and harm health," she warns. Del Val points out: "It is not at all clear that they work, and it is necessary to ventilate in any case at the end, due to the toxicity to the mucous membranes: well, ventilate well and that's it"
"Spraying disinfectants is not recommended due to lack of effectiveness and possible harm to the environment and humans" European Center for Disease Control
Health authorities are clear in this regard. ECDC notes that “spraying (also called fumigation) of disinfectants outdoors or on large indoor surfaces (rooms, classrooms or buildings), or the use of ultraviolet light radiation, is not recommended for the population due to the lack of effectiveness, possible damage to the environment and possible exposure of humans to irritating chemicals ”. The World Health Organization also clearly opposes the use of sprays, as useless and dangerous, in environments and also in people, in those car washes that mist products when entering some environments
On its page to disprove myths of the pandemic, the WHO also clarifies that the chances of contagion with shoes is "very low" and that temperature scans are not useful to detect covid patients, because many do not present that symptom and are still contagious. “The gun to measure the temperature does not make much sense. In Ebola, yes, because you only infect if you have a fever, but in this case the opportunity cost is only for the gallery, ”says García. And he claims: "What you need are not thermometers for travelers, but a ten-day quarantine." Furthermore, the ECDC advises against the use of gloves because they "do not confer an additional benefit and can lead to inadequate hand hygiene and increased surface contamination."
“We saw that with the ozone cannons it was very difficult for it to spread throughout the vehicle. At low concentrations, ozone does nothing, we kept finding traces. And in very high places it is not viable because it is very toxic ”Teresa Moreno, IDAEA-CSIC
Again, these are theatrical decisions that can give a false sense of security, for someone who enters a building with carpets to clean soles, spray arches and assistants with thermometers. Harvard epidemiologist Miguel Hernán criticizes other “pandemic theaters” that continue to be performed, such as “the theater of imposing a safety distance, which is not controlled, in poorly ventilated bars as if there were no contagion by aerosols when speaking in voice high because the music prevents hearing ". Or the "theater of recommending telecommuting instead of regulating it by law for all the positions in which it is possible."
García points to other issues that also seem to him representations without substance: “There are important measures that have not been taken and things have been invented in return, such as pandemic hospitals, perimeter closures when the incidence is just as high in all neighborhoods, discussions about the curfew of places that would have to be closed, dressing astronaut workers for anything ". "They are intuitive things, even if they don't make sense," he says. And he points to a last aspect that visually and psychologically has a great influence: the waves of infections. “It is a construction that causes people to be predisposed to the virus. It is good for governments because we assume that it is something inevitable that just happens. When we face an epidemic, we have to go deep to put an end to it, not to use that theatrical language of the waves ”, critica.
You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow MATERIA at Facebook , Twitter , Instagram or subscribe here to our Newsletter .
Information on the
coronavirus – Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the
pandemic – This is how the curve of the coronavirus evolves in Spain and in each autonomy
– Download the tracking application for Spain
– Guide to action against the
disease Source: Elpais