Mind and Body
VaevTissue: This Company Is Selling $79 Tissues Used by Sick People
Ignoring, for a moment, the heap of other issues — the health risk, the ick factor — VaevTissue has a business model that is risky at best. Founder Oliver Nissen tells Time that his company has a “stable” of 10 go-to sick people who are employed to sneeze into tissues. These tissues are then sold online for $79 apiece. VaevTissue claims that, by rubbing your face with the company’s germ-ridden tissue, you can get “sick on your own terms,” not when the common cold comes to strike.
The problem Nissen is having is that his stable of sickly sneezers is not sick. He tells Time “it is beneficial for them to be sick, of course,” but they are not sick, and now there are no more dirty tissues to sell.
According to the VaevTissue website, the company’s supply is sold out, having run through its collection of 1,000 tissues. An online search for people who have bought these used tissues hasn’t turned up a buyer, and other news outlets who reported on this issue don’t seem to have spoken to any, but Nissen assures that they are out there. Why these tissues are better than ones you can pick up from a public restroom trashcan, who can say.
On that note, if you have bought a VaevTissue, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at email@example.com.
That said, using a VaevTissue would be a bad decision. But before we jump into why, we should clarify that it’s not even clear which illness they are supposedly created to fight: In the Time interview, Nissen says that their sole purpose is to give the user a cold virus. On VaevTissue’s website and Instagram, the products are said to flight the flu. If you do want to fight the flu, your best chance is getting a flu vaccine.
Also of note is the VaevTissue marketing copy that describes the tissues as “treated with organic ingredients.” That is the snot and spit of another person. Nissen insists that this is a real company.
If you’re attempting to keep yourself from getting future colds by getting a cold from a used tissue, this is not the way to do it. One reason is that there are more than 200 viruses that provoke a cold-like illness. These viruses are lumped into seven virus families that cause the majority of colds: rhinovirus, coronavirus, influenza, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, metapneumovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus. Rhinovirus is the most prevalent and causes up to three-quarters of colds in adults.
According to University of Arizona microbiology professor Charles Gerba, the fact that there are so many types of viruses means “you’re going to have to shove about 200 tissues up your nose each time to get a different one.” Getting inoculated from one doesn’t protect you against all the others, he explains to Time, “that’s why we’ve never had a vaccine for the common cold.”
And while Gerba says, sure, there’s a good chance wiping your nose with a virus-ridden tissue would get you sick, that’s not even a given. There was a 1984 study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in which volunteers infected with a cold were instructed to kiss healthy people. When 26 sick volunteers kissed 33 healthy people, only two of the healthy individuals got colds after swapping spit.
According to Dr. Gary Freed, a pediatrician at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the best thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to keep up your personal hygiene. He recently told Inverse that this is the only thing that’s been proven to work to prevent colds. Placing your face upon the tissue of a sick stranger isn’t the best example of personal hygiene, so let’s pass on this one.