The rate at which COVID-19 has spread throughout the globe has been alarming. While the role of fomite transmission is not yet fully understood, precise data on the environmental stability of SARS-CoV-2 is required to determine the risks of fomite transmission from contaminated surfaces.
This study measured the survival rates of infectious SARS-CoV-2, suspended in a standard ASTM E2197 matrix, on several common surface types. All experiments were carried out in the dark, to negate any effects of UV light. Inoculated surfaces were incubated at 20 °C, 30 °C and 40 °C and sampled at various time points.
Survival rates of SARS-CoV-2 were determined at different temperatures and D-values, Z-values and half-life were calculated. We obtained half lives of between 1.7 and 2.7 days at 20 °C, reducing to a few hours when temperature was elevated to 40 °C. With initial viral loads broadly equivalent to the highest titres excreted by infectious patients, viable virus was isolated for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. Conversely, infectious virus survived less than 24 h at 40 °C on some surfaces.
These findings demonstrate SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious for significantly longer time periods than generally considered possible. These results could be used to inform improved risk mitigation procedures to prevent the fomite spread of COVID-19.