A new report is being circulated among people that say the novel coronavirus can live on cardboard for 24 hours and up to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic-based surfaces. According to the research team, it is possible but understanding it is even more complicated. They say if the virus stays on something like plastic then its level falls significantly within a few hours.
The research is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The key point that the researchers observed was the half-life of coronavirus or its decay rate. This half time indicates the time that the virus takes for half its level dies in a given sample.
They found that by placing virus-laden droplets on plastic, half of the virus level was drops after seven hours. Another half was gone after another seven hours and so on. After two days the amount of virus falls to 1/100 of the original one and by the end of three days, the level of the virus was hardly detectable.
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The half-life of the virus for stainless steel was about five to six hours and for cardboards, it was even less i.e. 4 hours.
They further observed that copper is the only surface on which the virus stays for the shortest duration. From previous studies, Copper is known for its antimicrobial properties. The half-life of the virus reduced to forty-five minutes when droplets were placed on the reddish metal.
One of the study authors Dylan H. Morris from Princeton University said that the initial amount of virus present on the surface is directly related to the amount left behind after a half-life. Greater the level of virus deposited on the surface, the more the amount will be left after one-half life.
Why there is no cure for coronavirus and other viruses? Have scientists used more or bigger droplets that they would detect the amount of virus left behind on the plastic after 3 days?
Morris who is a candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology said that the absolute time when the virus is barely detectable depends on the initial amount of virus placed on the surface.
Gregory A. Poland who is not directly involved in the study but is a vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. said that these findings should support those who concerned about their mail.
This Wednesday, Poland told Minnesota Public Radio on a call-in show broadcast nationally that if the exposure to the virus is smaller than there are fewer chances that it will bloom into a full infection. He further added that the virus is nonresistant to the warm temperatures and sunlight, so its decay rate becomes faster in hot conditions as compared to the indoor environment.
If someone could find coroavirus on the surface, then it doesn’t indicate that it is infectious. Still, it’s not difficult to wash hands with soap after touching any bag from the grocery store or retrieving the newspaper or newly delivered envelope.
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Morris and his colleagues compared the viability of this coronavirus on different surfaces with that kind of coronavirus which caused the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003. These results were found similar, but the level of SARS virus drops faster on cardboard than the new coronavirus.
Another research team is planning a comprehensive follow up study for observing the toughness of the virus at different levels of humidity and temperature. They would compare the properties of the coronavirus with the flu. The researcher team includes members from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health and UCLA.