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Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1

January 2021
The Lede
The Center For Health Design
The Nutgraph

This is the first paper where we all start to learn about how long SARS-CoV-2 survives on surfaces, and it makes us a little nervous! Researchers evaluated the stability of both the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus and the most closely related SARS-CoV-1. Researchers tested five environmental conditions: aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard. I’m going to focus on the results for the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2.

After four hours, there was no viable virus on the copper. After 24 hours, there was no viable virus on the cardboard. On plastic and stainless steel, though, there was viable virus after 72 hours. The researchers also found SARS-CoV-2 remained viable in aerosols for the three-hour experiment. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, the virus’ decay is exponential, and that means its half-life is important, too. That’s the time that it takes half of the virus sample to die. The estimated half-life was about 5.6 hours on stainless steel; 6.8 hours on plastic; just under 3.5 hours on cardboard, about 45 minutes on copper, and just over an hour as an aerosol.

So similar to the flu, wash your hands, cover your cough, and clean and disinfect surfaces.

The lede for:
van Doremalen, N., Bushmaker, T., Morris, D. H., Holbrook, M. G., Gamble, A., Williamson, B. N., Tamin, A., Harcourt, J. L., Thornburg, N. J., Gerber, S. I., Lloyd-Smith, J. O., de Wit, E., & Munster, V. J. (2020). Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. New England Journal of Medicine, (Correspondence-Online), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
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