SARS-CoV-2 Remains Infectious On Surfaces For Days
SARS coronaviruses spread in aerosols and on surfaces
Researchers analyzed the aerosol and surface stability of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and compared it with initial SARS-CoV, which is the most closely related human coronavirus.
Announced in an editorial published in NEJM on March 17, 2020, these researchers evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV in aerosols and on various surfaces and estimated their decay rates using a Bayesian regression model.
This study found both viruses had an exponential decay in virus titer across all experimental conditions.
The data consisted of 10 experimental conditions involving 5 environmental conditions: aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard.
SARS-CoV-2 remained viable in aerosols throughout the duration of our experiment (3 hours), with a reduction in infectious titer from 103.5 to 102.7 TCID50 per liter of air.
This reduction was similar to that observed with SARS-CoV, from 104.3 to 103.5 TCID50 per milliliter.
SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard, and the coronavirus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces, although the virus titer was greatly reduced after 48 hours on stainless steel.
On copper, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 4 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours.
On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 24 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours.
In conclusion, this study found that the stability of SARS-CoV-2 was similar to that of SARS-CoV under the experimental circumstances tested.
These researchers said ‘this data indicates that differences in the epidemiologic characteristics of these viruses probably arise from other factors, including high viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and the potential for persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 to shed and transmit the virus while asymptomatic.’
And, ‘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.’
In summary, ‘these findings echo those found with SARS-CoV, in which these forms of transmission were associated with the nosocomial (originating in a hospital) spread and super-spreading events, and they provide information for pandemic mitigation efforts.’
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