BREAKING! Virus News: Japanese Research Shows That SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Can Survive On Human Skin For As Long As 9 Hours!
: Japanese researchers from the Department of Infectious Diseases, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in a new study have demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can survive and linger on human skin much longer than flu viruses can.
The study showed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, remained viable and infectious on samples of human skin for about 9 hours, in contrast to influenza A virus (IAV) strains that remained viable on human skin for only about 2 hours.
The study findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal: Clinical Infectious Diseases. https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa1517/5917611
It was also found that both viruses on human skin were rapidly inactivated with hand sanitizers and also by proper washing with soap.
The study findings underscore the importance of washing your hands or using sanitizer to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The study’s corresponding author, Assist Professor Dr Ryohei Hirose from the Department of Infectious Diseases, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine-Kyoto told Thailand Medical News, "This study shows that SARS-CoV-2 may have a higher risk of contact transmission i.e. transmission from direct contact than IAV because SARS-CoV-2 virus is much more stable on human skin than the influenza virus"
He added, "These study findings support the hypothesis that proper hand hygiene is important for the prevention of the spread of SARS-CoV-2."
In the early part of the pandemic, researchers in the United States analyzed how long the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could last on surfaces and found it remained viable on copper surfaces for up to 4 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32182409/
Due to medical ethical reasons, the study could then not be performed on human skin as one cannot simply put samples of a potentially lethal virus on people's hands.
Hence for this new study, the Japanese researchers, from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan, created a skin model using samples of human skin obtained from autopsies.
The skin samples were collected approximately one day after death. The study team note that even 24 hours after death, human skin can still be used for skin grafts, meaning that it retains much of its function for some time after death.
Hence, the collected samples could be a suitable model for human skin, the study team said.
Utilizing their skin models, the study team found that SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus survived on the human skin samples for 9.04 hours, compared with 1.82 hours for the influenza A virus
Interestingly when these coronaviruses were mixed with mucus, to mimic the release of viral particles in a cough or sneeze, the SARS-CoV-2 lasted an even longer
time, of about 11 hours
Importantly however, both viruses were inactivated on skin 15 seconds after using hand sanitizer that was 80% ethanol.
Dr Hirose added, "Appropriate hand hygiene leads to the quick viral inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 and may reduce the high risk of contact infections."
The study team that their research did not consider the "infectious dose" of SARS-CoV-2, that is, the quantity of virus particles needed to give someone an infection from contact with contaminated skin, and so future research should also examine this question.
The study team said that there were three main limitations to this study. Firstly, only one SARS-CoV-2 strain and only one influenza strain were used.
Furthermore, the PR8 strain was used as the influenza strain instead of a relevant clinical isolate. It is necessary to further increase the number of virus strains and proceed with the research in the future, to understand if these results can be translated to human influenza and COVID-19.
Secondly, only 3 skin samples from autopsy specimens and 3 mucus samples were used in this study. Since the number of samples is small, in future clinical studies, the team plan to increase the number of samples and evaluate the clinical background of patients.
Thirdly, an evaluation model using human skin harvested in the context of a forensic autopsy was used for the evaluation of virus stability and disinfecting effectiveness. It is necessary to demonstrate in the future that the skin surface in this model is similar to that of live skin.
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