When a new virus emerges, among the many things scientists do not know is how long it survives outside its targeted hosts. For the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, we humans are the host. And scientists now have an idea for how long this thing can remain viable when it gets deposited on various surfaces, typically by a sneeze or a cough.
Viruses are not technically living things. To endure, they need to get inside us, invade our cells, then hijack the nuclear machinery of life. The cells of a person infected with SARS-CoV-2 reproduce the coronavirus, and the person suffers the symptoms of COVID 19.
Somewhat lost amid all the news lately is new research published March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine, results that had circulated for about two weeks prior to the formal publication, and which I noted the other day in my COVID-19 FAQ. The research reveals some figures I found startling, so it seems important to highlight it separately. The coronavirus was found to last up to…
3 hours in aerosols (airborne droplets)
4 hours on copper
24 hours on cardboard
3 days on plastic or stainless steel