How long can SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) particles survive in the air, or on certain surfaces?

Bottom Line:

SARS-CoV-2 particles remain viable for up to 3 hours in aersolized (air) droplets, and 4-72 hours on surfaces, depending on the material (plastic, stainless steel, copper, or cardboard). This suggests that transmission via aerosols or inanimate objects is possible.

Reference:

van Doremalen, N. et al. Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1. New England Journal of Medicine (2020). DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Date Published:

17 March 2020

Synopsis:

In this study, investigators generated aerosolized virus particles of both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 (SARS epidemic of 2003) at concentrations similar to tested samples from human respiratory tracts. They tested the persistence of viral particles in 5 different conditions: in aerosols, or on plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard. They found that SARS-CoV-2 could persist on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours, copper for up to 4 hours, and cardboard for up to 24 hours. Both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-Cov-1 showed exponential decrease in the virus titre (number of virus particles in a given volume) as time passed. These results indicate that transmission of coronavirus is plausible via aerosols and inanimate objects, as was seen in 2003 with the SARS-Cov-1 virus epidemic.

Summary by: Megan Wheatley