A recent study by Japanese scientists from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine has found that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can remain active on human skin for about 9 hours, five times longer than the influenza A virus (IAV ).
The research, which was published in the academic journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, reiterates the importance of personal hygiene and hand washing.
To carry out the study and not endanger healthy people, the researchers used human skin obtained from autopsy samples.
By mixing SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus with the culture medium or mucus from the upper respiratory tract and applying it to human skin, they found that the survival time of the coronavirus was significantly longer: 9 hours of SARS -CoV-2 versus 1.8 hours of IAV.
Both viruses were inactivated faster on skin than on other surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, and plastic. Furthermore, influenza A virus inactivated more rapidly in mucus than in culture medium on these surfaces, while SARS-CoV-2 showed similar stability under both conditions.
Survival time in stainless steel, glass, and plastic was significantly longer for SARS-CoV-2 (11 hours) than for IAV (1.7 hours). However, both viruses were completely inactivated within 15 seconds after treatment with 80% ethanol (ethyl alcohol).
So a disinfectant with the indicated proportion of ethyl alcohol kills both viruses without difficulty.
Thus, the team has concluded that the 9-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission compared to influenza A virus, thus accelerating the pandemic. But proper hand hygiene can prevent the spread of this infection, which has claimed the lives of more than a million people around the world.