Initial data on the viability of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosol and on surfaces

1. SARS-CoV-2 appears to have the longest surface viability on plastic and stainless steel compared to aerosol, copper, or cardboard with detection of viable virus up to 72 hours post application on plastic and 3 hours in aerosol.

2. Surface and aerosol stability of SARS-CoV-2 appears to be similar to that of SARS-COV-1.

Evidence Rating: 5 (Poor) – Correspondence / Bench Data

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate worldwide, researchers are seeking  to better characterize the virus in a race to contain its spread. While the stability of SARS-COV-1, a closely related human coronavirus responsible for the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s has been well characterized, the stability of SARS-CoV-2, the virus the causes COVID-19, in aerosols and on various surfaces is currently unknown. In this correspondence, researchers discuss their data from 10 experimental conditions that tested the viability and stability of SARS-COV-2 and SARS-COV-1 in 5 environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard). The virus was most viable on plastic and steel, with half lives of 6.8 and 5.6 hours, respectively. Viable virus was found up to 72 hours post application on plastic and up to 48 hours on steel. A shorter half-life was recorded for cardboard and copper, measuring in at 3.6 and 0.8 hours, respectively. No viable viruses were detected 24 hours post application on cardboard and 4 hours post application on copper. In aerosol, SARS-CoV-2 remained viable up to 3 hours post application and had a half-life of roughly 1.1 hours. Despite these findings being published preliminarily in a correspondence, the data provides valuable insight into the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and re-emphasizes the importance of proper anti-infective practices as the virus can remain viable on surfaces for days and in the air for hours. Researchers also found that the stability of SARS-CoV-2 were very similar to that of SARS-COV-1, and postulated that differences in transmission dynamics were therefore likely due to other factors such higher viral load in the upper respiratory tract and a long asymptomatic period.

Click to read the correspondence in NEJM

Image: PD

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