Coronavirus can survive more than 9 hours on human skin
IF LEFT undisturbed, the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can survive many hours on human skin, once again highlighting the importance of practicing proper hand hygiene and regular disinfecting during the pandemic.
A new study conducted by Japanese researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine found that the novel coronavirus could survive more than nine hours on the skin. The study also compared the coronavirus’ survival capabilities to the influenza A virus (IAV), and in comparison, the influenza strain only managed to live about 1.8 hours on the skin on average, more than four times shorter than the coronavirus.
“These results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 has markedly higher stability on human skin than that of (influenza A virus),’ the authors wrote. The researchers concluded that this finding may “increase the risk of contact transmission” with the coronavirus, thus accelerating the pandemic.
To avoid possibly infecting healthy volunteers, the researchers said they conducted lab experiments using cadaver skin that would otherwise have been used for skin grafts and that was obtained 24 hours prior. However, they also discovered that both the coronavirus and IAV inactivated more rapidly on the skin than on other surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, or plastic. Previous research had reported that the coronavirus remained viable for up to 72 hours on surfaces.
Both viruses were also killed within 15 seconds by hand sanitizer containing 80% alcohol. The study was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on Oct. 3
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends using alcohol-based hand rubs with 60% to 95% alcohol or thoroughly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Studies have shown that COVID-19 transmission largely occurs via aerosols and droplets.
“These findings support the hypothesis that proper hand hygiene is important for the prevention of the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, this study may contribute to the development of better control strategies in the context of COVID-19 to prevent the occurrence of the second or third waves of this pandemic,” the authors noted.
A boy washes his hands at Educational Playcare, in Glastonbury, Connecticut, U.S., Aug. 27, 2020.