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On the Stability and Infection Risk of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

  • Respiratory viruses such as the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are not very stable. Destroying the lipid coating of the shell will prevent infection by the virus.
  • Respiratory viruses such as the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 when expelled into the air by coughing, breathing or speaking can settle on surfaces. There they can linger in an active state for days, protected by mucus.
  • Presently, scientists are not sure how long SARS-CoV-2 can remain active on a surface.
  • One study performed in a hospital found that coronaviruses can survive on hard surfaces like glass, metal, or plastic for up to 9 days (J. Hosp. Infect. 2020, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.01.022).
  • Another study found that SARS-CoV-2 remains stable on plastic and stainless steel for 2–3 days (N. Engl. J. Med. 2020, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973).
  • The virus can be spread to anyone touching the surface and to whatever that person touches next.
  • Enveloped viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which rely on a protective lipid coating, are the easiest to deactivate.
  • Ways to burst the shell are:
  • Alcohol-based products disintegrate protective lipids.
  • Quaternary ammonium disinfectants, commonly used in the health-care and food-service industries, attack protein and lipid structures, preventing the typical mode of infection.
  • Bleach and other potent oxidizers easily break down a virus’s essential components.


  • Reference

    Chemical & Engineering News (CEN) 2020-03-23

    How do we know disinfectants kill coronaviruses?

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