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The Coronavirus Can Survive on Skin This Much Longer Than We Thought

It's more than you think.


With the novel coronavirus still sweeping the nation, we’re all trying to stay safe and prevent it from spreading. As more and more research emerges, we’re learning how to do so in the best way, and of course, that means washing your hands often. But how long can the coronavirus really last on the skin’s surface? A new study shows it’s a lot longer than we think.

The Coronavirus on Skin — The Research

Early on in the pandemic, research showed that the coronavirus could survive on stainless steel for as long as three days and cardboard for about 24 hours. But what about the coronavirus on skin? Viruses like the flu are only said to last for a few hours, but new research suggests that the coronavirus might be even longer.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, tested how long the SARS-CoV-2 virus could survive on human skin as well as surfaces like glass and stainless steel. They also compared their results to the survival times for influenza.

According to their findings, while influenza only survived for around two hours on human skin, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was able to survive for a whopping nine hours. That’s a significant difference, and could indicate why the coronavirus is considered to be as much as three times more transmissible than the flu!

Additionally, they found that when mixed with mucus (like from a cough or sneeze), the virus survived even longer at 11 hours. But don’t be alarmed just yet! The researchers also tested sanitizing agents and found that hand sanitizers with 80 percent alcohol concentration were able to inactivate the virus in just 15 seconds. As for surfaces, the results reinforced previous research that suggested the virus could last for well over 72 hours on glass and stainless steel.

This research highlights the importance of proper sanitizing practices like using hand sanitizer and washing our hands regularly (for at least 20 seconds!), especially when we’re out in public or returning home from public places. Additionally, keeping surfaces in our homes clean, especially after having guests over, has shown yet again to be a safe and necessary practice. Thanks to findings like those from this study, we can more effectively stop the spread of this virus and keep ourselves, our families, and our neighbors safe.

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