How long coronavirus survives in air, on plastic, metal and cardboard

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — A team of scientists under the auspices of the American National Institute of Health studied how long the virus survives in air, on stainless steel, plastic and cardboard.

One of the main discoveries is that a viable virus can remain in the air in the form of a cloud of small particles for three hours. For comparison: some influenza viruses remain alive in the air for about an hour, and then only under certain circumstances. This is evidenced by a study from 2018.

Coronavirus lives on cardboard for up to 24 hours. But the longest time he survives on plastic and stainless steel is up to three days.

This means that the virus can be stored for quite some time on various things, such as cardboard boxes, taps or countertops, but over time its concentration decreases.

May infect

“This is very important information that allows you to better evaluate how the virus is transmitted and what measures it makes sense to take,” said Gunnveig Grødeland, an immunologist at the University of Oslo.

These data also confirm how important it is to wash your hands frequently. It is not known how long the virus lives on the skin of the hands, but most people touch their faces dozens of times per hour, according to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

This means that people can become infected with the virus by touching surfaces while they have viable particles on them, explains Gunnewig Grödelann.

“We don’t know exactly how much virus is needed for a person to get sick, but maybe not so much.”

Gredeland said that she needed only three particles of the flu virus to make a person sick. During sneezing, many millions of particles of the virus are released into the air, but, as already mentioned, it is not yet known how many of them are needed for infection in the case of coronavirus.


The authors of the new study placed a realistic amount of virus particles on various surfaces in the laboratory, and also sprayed the virus on them in the form of an aerosol.

All checks were carried out at a temperature of 21 to 23 degrees with a humidity of 40%. This is important because the virus lives at different temperatures for different times.

“This is a good starting point, and if it is warmer, then the virus will live a little less.”

But in the Norwegian winter, when the surface temperature is lower, the virus is likely to live a little longer than scientists have established in their experiments, adds Gredelann.

Almost as expected

The authors of a new study compared the results with the survivability of the SARS virus, which resembles the current coronavirus that is raging today in many countries of the world. It turned out that the survival of these two viruses on different surfaces is quite similar.

Although the virus that causes Covid-19 is a new coronavirus that has begun to spread recently, its behavior is not too different from other viruses that are more familiar to us.

“The flu virus also persists on surfaces for a couple of days, so this is usually the case for viruses of this type,” says Gredelann.

Since the virus behaves as expected, then the measures taken should be enough. But if the virus behaved in a completely different way than scientists had expected, we would have every reason for concern.

Gredeland also believes that the urgent measures introduced this week to prevent people from repacking each other arrived just in time. “These measures are based on knowledge of similar viruses previously known to us.”

“In recent days, the infection began to spread uncontrollably, so the right moment is chosen,” the researcher said. She considers the latter measures necessary, although she admits that they are quite tough. “They can even be strengthened, but so far everything that the authorities are doing looks very correct.”

In an attempt to slow the spread of the infection in Norway, all schools and kindergartens were closed. Many other measures have also been taken.


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