New research reveals the disturbing amount of time COVID-19 lives on surfaces

Sanitizing has been a top priority in protecting yourself during the coronavirus pandemic since March.

The pandemonium of the pandemic caused stocking shortages across multiple industries including home care, where things like hand sanitizer and basic cleaning supplies were hard to come by as many prepared.

The days of getting your favorite hand soaps were replaced with whatever was left (and don’t even think about antibacterial supplies; those were really impossible to find).

While the second wave to the coronavirus pandemic has still yet to make its way across the nation, a new study highlights the importance of keeping things clean around you — especially in light of recent spikes across the country.

The virus behind COVID-19 can survive on surfaces such as money, glass, and stainless steel for up to 28 days, which is a week longer than the influenza A virus, according to new research from Australian scientists.

Researchers from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO found that the SARS-COV-2 virus — the virus that causes the coronavirus — can survive on everyday items such as banknotes, phone screens, and others for nearly a month. By comparison, the flu virus can survive on surfaces for 17 days, according to the study.

The study, which appears in the Virology Journal, was conducted at a temperature of 68 degrees — or room temperature — finding that the virus “remained infectious” for a duration of 28 days.

“Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious on surfaces for long periods of time, reinforcing the need for good practices such as regular handwashing and cleaning surfaces,” Dr. Debbie Eagles, deputy director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, said in a press release.

“At 20 degrees Celsius, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens and plastic banknotes.”

Researchers conducted similar experiences using the drying virus in an artificial mucus across multiple surfaces that mimicked samples from COVID-19 patients. Experiments were done at 68, 86, and 104 degrees Fahrenheit and results showed that the virus survived longer at a cooler temperature. It also survived “longer on smooth surfaces than on complex surfaces such as cotton, and longer on paper banknotes than on plastic banknotes,” according to Reuters.

“While the precise role of surface transmission, the degree of surface contact and the amount of virus required for infection is yet to be determined, establishing how long this virus remains viable on surfaces is critical for developing risk mitigation strategies in high contact areas,” Eagles added.

Researches said that proteins and fats in body fluids can also “significantly increase virus survival times, which might explain why the virus has survived in areas such as meat processing facilities which have shutdown numerous times during the pandemic in the US.

While these discoveries are certainly alarming, critics said the study is simply fear-mongering.

“Viruses are spread on surfaces from mucus in coughs and sneezes and dirty fingers and this study did not use fresh human mucus as a vehicle to spread the virus,” Professor Ron Eccles, former director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, told the BBC.

“Fresh mucus is a hostile environment for viruses as it contains lots of white cells that produce enzymes to destroy viruses and can also contain antibodies and other chemicals to neutralize viruses.

“In my opinion infectious viruses will only persist for hours in mucus on surfaces rather than days.”