COVID-19 Research: Study Shows That SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Can Survive Exposure To High Temperatures
: French researchers lead by Professor Remi Charrel from the Aix-Marseille University in southern France has discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is able to withstand high temperatures even when heated to as high as 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit) for an hour, as it was found the that the new coronavirus was still able to replicate.
It was found that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could only be destroyed at a temperature almost close to boiling point.
The study, which is a pre print published in BioRvix (Evaluation of heating and chemical protocols for inactivating SARS-CoV-2
Pastorino, B., Touret, F., Gilles, M., de Lamballerie, X., Charrel, 10.1101/2020.04.11.036855
) has implications for the safety of lab technicians working with the coronavirus.
The French researchers infected African green monkey kidney cells, a standard host material for viral activity tests, with a strain isolated from a patient in Berlin, Germany. The cells were loaded into tubes representing two different types of environments, one “clean” and the other “dirty” with animal proteins to simulate biological contamination in real-life samples, such as an oral swab.
Upon subjecting the samples to high heat, the viral strains in the clean environment were thoroughly deactivated. Some strains in the dirty samples, however, survived. The heating process resulted in a clear drop in infectivity but enough living strains remained to be able to start another round of infection, said the paper.
The results of the study has implications for researchers and laboratory personnel working in less protected laboratories. Technicians in these labs were directly exposed to the samples, requiring that they be “deactivated” before further processing.
Typically, the 60-degrees Celsius, hour-long protocol has been adapted in many testing labs to suppress a wide range of deadly viruses, including Ebola.
However for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, this temperature may be enough for samples with low viral loads because it could kill a large proportion of the strains. But it may be dangerous for samples with extremely high amounts of the virus, according to the researchers.
The researchers found a higher temperature could help solve the problem. For instance, heating the samples to 92 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes could render the virus completely inactive.
The problem is that such high temperatures could also severely fragment the virus’ RNA and reduce the sensitivity of the test. The researchers therefore suggested using chemicals instead of heat to kill the virus and strike a balance between the safety of lab workers and detection efficiency.
The research findings pres
ented in this study should help to choose the best suited protocol for inactivation in order to prevent exposure of laboratory personnel in charge of direct and indirect detection of Sars-CoV-2 for diagnostic purpose. Also staff should adhere to stringent protective protocols.
The research provided valuable information but the situation in real life could be much more complex than the lab simulations, according to the scientist.
The research also dashes the hope of those thinking that warmers seasons might weaken the virus spread.
Also in a paper published in journal JAMA Network Open earlier this month, a team of Chinese researchers reported a cluster outbreak at a public bath in Huaian, in the eastern province of Jiangsu. A patient visited the centre on January 18 for a bath and sauna. Eight people, including a staff member, were subsequently infected over about two weeks though the bath had a temperature higher than 40 degrees Celsius and an average 60 per cent humidity. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2763473?resultClick=24
The French researchers commented, “The transmissibility of Sars-CoV-2 showed no signs of weakening in warm and humid conditions.”
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