By Travis Decaminada
Key Takeaway: The transmissibility of the Covid-19 virus via surfaces may be lower than first thought, nonetheless, new technologies are being developed that can keep surfaces viral free for longer periods of time.
Covid-19 has made many people increasingly aware of the surfaces they touch, more specifically, how germ covered those surfaces may be. We posted about the ability for the COVID-19 virus to survive on surfaces back in October 2020, noting that the virus could reportedly persist for over twenty days under laboratory conditions. However, new evidence suggests that the virus may not be quite that resilient.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in early April 2021 suggesting that surface transmission of the virus may be lower than previously thought. Per the CDC, “…the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection via the fomite transmission route is low, and generally less than 1 in 10,000, which means that each contact with a contaminated surface has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection”. Further, the CDC goes on to note that in “typical indoor environmental conditions” the virus only persists on surfaces for approximately three days.
Though these facts may make some people feel more relaxed, the CDC is still quick to note that the findings of these studies are preliminary at best, and the CDC still recommends keeping surfaces clean and sanitized (CDC cleaning guidelines here).
Surfaces of the Future
According to the CDC not all surface cleaning methods are the same, and no cleaning method can reportedly make up for using a disinfectant. These approaches may be a thing of the past, however, as new technology is reportedly being developed that could keep surfaces germ free in perpetuity.
Per ScienceDaily, researchers from the American Institute of Physics are working on developing surfaces that quickly eliminate viruses by ensuring that the liquid droplets that carry them evaporate quickly. Other attempts are being made to incorporate naturally antiviral compounds like zinc into surfaces, reports PlasticsToday.
The potential uses of these technologies could extend beyond the pandemic. Phones, door handles, computer mice, and more could all theoretically be made to naturally resist carrying viruses or bacteria. Such technologies developed during the Covid-19 pandemic may be some of the few positive outcomes of the crisis.