ACSH in the Media: Coronavirus Edition

By ACSH Staff — Mar 13, 2020
We've been quite busy answering questions about coronavirus, UV light, and hand sanitizer.
Credit: Public Domain/Wikipedia

Perhaps other than virologists, few people would have predicted that a tiny microbe would dominate global headlines for several months in 2020. It goes without saying that the coronavirus has kept us quite busy. We've been interviewed or cited by the media on more than 20 occasions in the past few weeks. Here are the highlights:

1) Dr. Josh Bloom was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) on the very sensitive topic of assisted suicide. As Baby Boomers get older, two things are inevitable: Mental health decline and death. We are going to be facing a large crisis of terminally ill patients, so we better start our policy and ethics debates now rather than later. Dr. Bloom was interviewed on the program AirTalk.

2) Dr. Alex Berezow was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal for an article about whether it is important to clean your smartphone during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Berezow told the WSJ, "My phone is the least of my concerns... Worry about touching door handles that thousands of other people touch." Other outlets were interested in the same topic. Dr. Berezow was also interviewed by New York magazine, which wanted to know if devices that use UV light to clean phones were worthwhile. Spoiler alert: No. While you're at it, don't freak out over "germs" in general. Some (like coronavirus) are bad; others (like your normal skin bacteria) are harmless. MSN quotes Dr. Berezow on this topic.

3) Hand sanitizer is on everyone's mind. Dr. Berezow answered questions from several journalists on this topic, and his responses can be found in Insider, Yahoo News, and Insider (again). The takeaway lessons on hand sanitizer include: (1) Soap and water are superior; (2) Hand sanitizer is okay if you don't have soap and water; (3) Hand sanitizer really can expire because the alcohol slowly evaporates after the container is open. (To be effective, the alcohol needs to be at a concentration of at least 60%.) Newsd and Jagran English, websites in India, summarized many of these points. Dr. Berezow also previously wrote an article on how people are neither using enough hand sanitizer nor spreading it over their hands adequately. This article was cited by Business Insider (in India, too), World Economic Forum, and Mic. The website Compound Interest, which makes beautiful infographics about chemistry, also cited it.

4) Dr. Berezow has been featured in a number of radio shows and podcasts all over the nation and world. He was interviewed on the nationally syndicated Michael Medved Show, a podcast by the Seattle area's Kirby Wilbur, and a podcast by New Zealand's Leighton Smith (segment begins at 11:10). The topic: Coronavirus, of course.

5) Is calling COVID-19 the "Wuhan coronavirus" racist? Of course not. Microbiologists have a long history of naming diseases after places, animals, and people. Norovirus is from Norwalk, Ohio. Lyme disease is from Lyme, Connecticut. We still name flu strains after locations. Dr. Berezow wrote an article about the controversy, which was subsequently cited by the Daily Wire (twice) and the Washington Examiner.

6) Dr. Berezow also wrote a lengthy Q&A for Leaps Magazine about coronavirus, mostly discussing how you can protect yourself. One way you cannot protect yourself is with Traditional Chinese Medicine or other alternative medicine. Dr. Berezow wrote about this biomedical scam for Foreign Policy in 2018, and it was subsequently cited by MedicineNet in recent days.

7) Syndicated columnist Linda Arnold cited an article that we republished from The Conversation on the need to eliminate both the coronavirus and the fear of the coronavirus. Her column was published in Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Exponent Telegram.

8) Recently, Dr. Berezow has taken on an Analyst role with Geopolitical Futures. An article he wrote for that website (republished here) about the most important question coronavirus question ("Will I get sick and die?") was reprinted in party by the Longview Daily News.

9) Dr. Chuck Dinerstein was cited in Slate on whether aging should be considered a disease. One of the challenges with this view is that there are no reliable biomarkers for aging.

10) Dr. Dinerstein was also cited by Futurism in an article about marijuana. Use among seniors has surged by 700%. Hey Pops, pass the joint!

11) Dr. Bloom, who has become an expert on chronic pain, wrote an article about a potentially significant advance in pain treatment. His article caught the attention Proactive Investors (twice).

12) ACSH advisor Dr. Jeff Singer wrote an article about how vending machines should dispense some types of medicine in order to take the burden off of pharmacists. His article was cited by Vending Times.