Reports and Opinions

COVID-19 helps toilet paper sales?

By Alex Curthew-Sanders

People want to keep more than just their hands clean…


COVID-19 has quickly gone from something people had hardly heard of, to straight-up pandemic. So much so, the Guardian even labelled it as a global crisis. With cases of the virus rising rapidly, countries face increased pressure to reduce the spread of the virus as well as treat those who need it.


Empty toilet paper shelves – Photograph: Lorena Allam/The Guardian

While the virus itself is highly contagious, it is only lethal to those with compromised immune systems, so there isn’t a need to be panicked over having it, but self-isolation is being recommended by the government in a bid to slow down the spread. Although this is a pandemic, I feel like the panic weaved by the media seems to have backfired in spectacular fashion.

During a global crisis, it turns out people are more concerned over toilet paper than they are with the bare essentials. People all over the world have been marching up to stores; storming the shelves and getting into fights over who has the rights to the toilet paper. More recently, hand sanitizer has been caught in the crossfire of this grizzly war and it just begs the question of why?

Why toilet paper over, let’s say, canned foods? Bottled water? Surely, in a state of complete lockdown where going outside would mean “certain death”, these would be far more useful than toilet paper. I would never think we’d get to a point where there is a shortage in toilet paper. It completely boggles the mind. According to the business insider, it’s gotten so bad that some retailers have had to impose limits on how many rolls each customer can purchase.

So, why are people raving over toilet paper? Hand sanitizer is at least explainable, despite it being absurd that people would be rushing to get them when a bar of soap would do the job just as well, but I digress. One of the supposed symptoms of COVID-19 that was being pedalled was diarrhoea. In response to this, people must have connected the dots. Toilet paper and a lot of number 2.
The only problem is that it’s not true.

According to the NHS, COVID-19 does not directly cause diarrhoea. It’s most likely that people have gotten it mixed up with SARS, another strain of coronavirus that did cause diarrhoea (as well as being a lot nastier in general.)

While COVID-19 remains a threat that needs to be heeded, I don’t think to employ legions of toilet rolls is going to help out the situation.

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