Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation [CSIRO] have recently been conducting experiments to see how long COVID-19 can survive on certain surfaces. They found that the virus has a longer life span when found on smooth glass like that of a smartphone, stainless steel, and paper banknotes. They also discovered the virus can last longer in colder temperatures.
During the study, researchers found that the virus is able to survive for as long as 28 days on the aforementioned surfaces when temperatures are at the 20 degrees Celsius mark.
According to Dr Debbie Eagles, Deputy Director of ACDP- “At 20 degrees Celsius, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens and plastic banknotes.“ For context, similar experiments for Influenza A have found that it survived on surfaces for 17 days, which highlights just how resilient SARS-CoV-2 is.”
Researchers came to this conclusion by drying the virus in an artificial mucus on different surfaces, at concentrations similar to those reported in samples from infected patients and then re-isolating the virus over a month. Further experiments were carried out at 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, with survival times decreasing as the temperature increased. Researchers also conducted the study in the dark. This was done to remove the effect of UV light, as research has demonstrated direct sunlight can rapidly inactivate the virus, according to the research paper.
“While the precise role of surface transmission, the degree of surface contact and the amount of virus required for infection is yet to be determined, establishing how long this virus remains viable on surfaces is critical for developing risk mitigation strategies in high contact areas,” Dr Eagles said.
Click here to read the full paper documenting the findings.