Study: SARS-CoV-2 survives on some surfaces for nearly a month in cool, controlled setting

Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 1:55 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on certain surfaces, under the right conditions, for nearly a month, according to researchers in Australia.

Scientists with Australia’s national science agency, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), put a droplet of fluid containing SARS-CoV-2 on high-contact surfaces and tracked how long the virus survived at different temperatures.

The experiments were conducted in a lab with no ultraviolet light and humidity at 50 percent.

Researchers found at 20 degrees Celsius (68-degrees Fahrenheit), SARS-CoV-2 was still present on glass, steel, vinyl, paper and polymer banknotes for 28 days. The warmer the temperature, the faster the virus inactivated. At 30 degrees Celsius (86-degrees Fahrenheit), the virus lasted on glass, steel and polymer banknotes for a week. The virus lasted 24 hours on those same surfaces at 40 degrees Celsius (104-degrees Fahrenheit), according to researchers.

“I think the big takeaway from this is just the simple fact that, so the virus is going to be able to survive on surfaces for a period of time, we are still working out exactly what that is going to look like, and I think that is a good contribution to it,” said Dr. Wesley Willeford, Medical Director of Disease Control, Jefferson County Department of Health.

Dr. Willeford said the study highlights the importance of regular and thorough hand washing.

“It really just tells us we need to be washing our hands, cleaning our surfaces fairly regularly. But I think the hand washing is the absolutely most important part.

COVID-19 is most often transmitted person-to-person and CSIRO researchers said the virus found on surfaces after 28 days did not contain “enough viable virus to infect a person.”

“While we can’t yet answer the likelihood of developing COVID-19 from surfaces, we do know the SARS-CoV-2 virus can’t penetrate skin. To catch the disease, you would first need to introduce the virus into your mouth, nose or eyes. Our findings reinforce the message that you should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and keep washing your hands. It’s also important to be careful when removing facemasks, as the virus can survive on the outside where you could transfer it to your hands,” researchers wrote in the published report.

Scientists in Australia studied how long SARS-CoV-2 survives on surfaces and different...
Scientists in Australia studied how long SARS-CoV-2 survives on surfaces and different temperatures.(Source: CSIRO)

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