March 23, 2020

SARS 1 vs. SARS 2: Does the new virus live longer on surfaces?

Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1

NEJM | Doremalen et al. | Mar. 17, 2020

The aim of this recent publication was to determine how long SARS-CoV-2 could survive in the air and on various surfaces. The authors compare the length of SARS-CoV-2 survival to SARS-CoV-1 (measured by the amount of virus remaining after a duration of time) in aerosolized form and on copper, cardboard, stainless steel, and plastic.

All in all, the two variants of coronavirus survived for similar lengths of time in all conditions with the exception of cardboard, where SARS-CoV-2 outlasted SARS-CoV-1. The authors advise caution in taking this as fact though, because the data were noticeably noisier and less consistent.

The important takeaway from this study is that the two viruses can survive for similar durations on various surfaces. Therefore, the epidemiological differences between the two viruses can be thought to be a result of other factors, such as high viral load in the upper respiratory tract and the potential of asymptomatic transmission with SARS-CoV-2.

Aerosolized3+ hours (full duration of experiment)3+ hours (full duration of experiment)
Copper8 hours8 hours
Cardboard8 hours24 hours
Stainless Steel40 hours60 hours
Plastic72 hours72 hours