A Los Angeles-based start-up company is selling tissues that have been sneezed into, bearing various cold viruses and germs from sick people.
A Vaev Tissue costs US$79.99, and its sole purpose is to give the user the virus and germs that are in the tissue. It's designed for users to wipe their nose on so that they can "get sick on their own terms".
Essentially, the idea behind the Vaev Tissue is to pay to make yourself sick.
Vaev's About Us page backs its sneeze-filled tissues with the following statement:
"We believe that when flu season comes around, you should be able to get sick on your terms. We’re not about chemicals or prescription drugs here at Vaev. We believe using a tissue that carries a human sneeze is safer than needles or pills."
In an interview with Time, Oliver Niessen, the 34-year-old founder of the company said "the simple idea is you choose now to get sick, with the idea you won't get sick with that same cold later".
"You'd wipe your nose with a Vaev tissue a few days before leaving on vacation, for instance, and get your cold out of the way before your trip," Niessen added.
However, according to Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, that is not the way viruses work.
"There are a lot of things wrong with that," he said.
"There are more than 200 types of rhinoviruses, so 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 from all the others.
"That's why we've never had a vaccine for the common cold. How do you make a vaccine against 200 different viruses?"
Gerba also expressed his concerns over the tissues being an "incredible liability" because you can't predict how a person will react to any virus.
Currently, the website has had its $79.99 sneeze-filled tissues listed as "sold out" for a few months, which Niessen said was due to "supply chain issues".