Scientists did a government-backed study to determine how long coronavirus stays on surfaces alive. They found it can live for days.
The world watches and waits in trepidation as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds. Confirmed case totals worldwide topped 156,000 Sunday, while people stocked up on goods to prepare for a drawn out lockdown.
Organizations the world over shut down operations and cancelled events to flatten the COVID-19 pandemic’s growth curve.
The NBA canceled its season, the NCAA cancelled March Madness, Disney World and Disneyland shut down, tech conferences have been postponed or gone virtual, concerts and comedy tours have been cancelled, restaurants have shuttered, and businesses are having employees work from home.
While people wait out the storm, they’re searching online for the latest information to take effective precautions. Search volume for coronavirus-related queries has skyrocketed. In addition to keeping tabs on which famous people have coronavirus (Tom Hanks, Charles Barkley and Justin Trudeau), they want to know how long coronavirus lasts on surfaces, and what kills coronavirus.
More people might be hoarding latex gloves if they knew about the experiment scientists recently did. Researchers from Princeton, UCLA and the National Institutes of Health wanted to determine how long coronavirus stays on surfaces.
They found that the virus can survive on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for as long as three days.
During that time window, touching the infected surface could transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to a person’s hand. From there, touching the face introduces it into the mouth and nose, where coronavirus can be aspirated into the lungs. Once it reaches the lungs, coronavirus can cause COVID-19.
Although the study is preliminary, and has not yet been officially peer reviewed, third-party analysts say it gives us an idea just how infectious the virus might be. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who did not take part in the experiments, called it an “important study.” He said it:
…demonstrates further how contagious this virus is.
So if coronavirus can live on surfaces for days, what kills coronavirus? As it turns out, there’s no need to panic over the hand sanitizer shortage. Just plain soap and water– and vigorous hand washing– kill coronavirus. Here’s the reason why:
The coronavirus has three basic parts: a lipid (fatty) bilayer membrane, genetic material inside it that hacks human cells and gets them to make more virus instead of more of themselves, and protein gates on the membrane that hook up with their counterparts on human cells to inject the virus’ genetic material.
Well, soap is a solvent for fatty acids like those that make up the membrane or envelope of the coronavirus. Experts recommend vigorous hand washing to create enough friction for the soap-weakened virus membranes to pull apart.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.
Last modified: March 15, 2020 4:13 PM UTC