A new study has found that COVID-19 can live on some surfaces for up to three days, including plastic and stainless steel.
In a paper that has not yet been peer reviewed, National Institute of Health scientists analyzed the new coronavirus at the center of the global pandemic -- and found it to be strikingly similar to SARS, its closest viral relative.
Through a series of recent experiments, researchers tracked the virus's viability on different surfaces, discovering that its half-life covers a wide range of time periods. On copper, for instance, the virus survived just four hours.
But on some surfaces, its longevity was much greater -- lasting for up to one day on cardboard, and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel.
And when it came to aerosols, the virus lasted for three hours after being sprayed, researchers wrote.
In other words, transmission through surfaces and aerosols is entirely possible, researchers said -- including through "superspreading" events that defined the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Airborne transmission in particular was thought to play a meaningful role in that pandemic, researchers wrote, which prompted the comparison between the two viruses.
Although COVID-19 survived for longer on cardboard than SARS, researchers overall found the viruses to behave quite similarly across various environments.
Other factors, then, likely account for the differences between the two viruses, researchers wrote, most notably that some people with COVID-19 may be able to spread it while asymptomatic.
The findings have been released as a preprint with plans for publishing, and the team is following up with more research into COVID-19, including how it behaves at different temperatures and across different substances like mucus and spit.
When it comes to surfaces, though, the conclusion is clear: Wipe them down with the right kind of cleaner.
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