Coronavirus can remain active on human skin for up to 9 hours, study finds


Coronavirus can remain active on human skin for up to 9 hours, study finds. The study’s findings point out the relevance of hand hygiene to control the spread of COVID-19 in the public domain.

A recent study, led by a team of Japanese researchers, reported that the pathogen behind COVID-19 – SARS-CoV-2 – can live on human skin for up to nine hours, while the flu virus, namely Influenza A virus (IAV), only lasts about two hours. The study was published in the Clinical Infectious Disease journal this month, whose results have again emphasized the need for maintaining hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly at regular intervals, which was also recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The study was conducted by researchers at Japan’s Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. According to Live Science, as for the matter of safety and precaution, the team used skin samples from human autopsy specimens which were procured one day after death. However, despite the longer active span of COVID-19 on the surface of human skin, the researchers noted that both viruses, SARS-CoV-2 and IAV, were inactivated within 15 seconds under the action of ethanol, which is mainly present in hand sanitizers.

The team also tested the time variance when the coronavirus and influenza A virus, which is associated with flu, were both mixed with the mucus in the upper respiratory tract and then recorded the variance while releasing this infected mucus through coughing or sneezing. Researchers found that COVID-19 lasted on the skin even longer: for approximately 11 hours.

The study has also tested the active span of COVID-19 on other surfaces including stainless steel, plastic, and heat-resistant glass, and found that it remained active on these surfaces from 58 to 85 hours, whereas the flu remained only for about 6 to 11 hours. The study, however, didn’t consider the amount or dose of SARS-CoV-2 (quantity of virus) which is required to infect a person from contact with infected skin. Researchers also noted that human skin was the fastest to be inactivated out of all other test surfaces. Nevertheless, the study stated that the longer duration of active coronavirus on human skin can “accelerate the pandemic “ and increase the risk of spreading.



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