April 2, 2020

New Information About COVID-19 Viability on Surfaces

The news is changing rapidly about COVID-19 viability on surfaces. At the beginning of this pandemic scientists thought that that coronavirus wouldn’t retain viability on surfaces for very long, and also that it couldn’t survive in the air. That information is probably incorrect, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

New Information About COVID-19 Viability on Surfaces

Because we have never seen a virus like this before, scientists could only compare it to other coronaviruses such as SARS and H1N1. Now that researchers have been able to study it, and have conducted tests, they know more about it.

In this paper, COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. The virus was tested in ten experimental situations involving the two strains of the virus in aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard.

The virus remained viable in aerosols for 3 hours, which means it could travel through the air.  It is more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard. It remained stable for 3 days after it was applied to stainless steel and plastic. After 8 hours, no viable viruses were found on copper. And on cardboard, it lasted for 24 hours.

The virus decayed exponentially across all of these conditions. The paper did state that there was more variation in the tests on cardboard, so it may be viable for longer than 24 hours.

The paper ends by concluding: “Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days.”

So what does this mean for you? It means that there are more ways to protect yourself against this pathogen now that we know about COVID-19 viability on surfaces. Always wash your hands with soap and water after you touch any surface outside your home, particularly stainless steel and plastic.

If you are getting packages, including food, delivered to your home in cardboard boxes, you may want to keep them out of your home for at least 24 hours unless they contain perishable products. When you handle cardboard from another source, again, always wash your hands throughly with soap and water before dong anything else.

More information equals more power. Continue to practice social distancing more than ever, wash your hands as much as possible, and stay home as much as you can.

 

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