Persistence of COVID-19, a viral pandemic

Understanding the novel coronavirus

Over time, infectious agents mutate and become more resistant and persistent. Now we are facing a pandemic of global proportions. The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from community to community in exponential fashion across the globe. And, disinfection is not a complete solution.

According, to this CDC statement:

“Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.”

Understanding the virus

cough-3897389_400Here are some facts to consider.

  • Human to human contacts have incubation times of 2 to 10 days with spread via droplets, by sneezing, coughing, contaminated hands and surfaces.
  • The disease can be contagious without the host being symptomatic.
  • Coronaviruses can persist on different materials from 2 to 9 days. For example, coronavirus can persist up to 48 hours on steel, for 4 to 5 days on paper, and for 5 days on glass and plastic. 

Surprisingly, studies have shown that certain viral strains survive only 2 to 8 hours on aluminum.  Aluminum is highly conductive, reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere, and for steam sterilization is one of the most thermal conductive materials. That is why it is an ideal material for sterilization containment devices.

Environmental surfaces

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Unfortunately, most surfaces cannot be sterilized and require disinfection to kill microorganisms. However, disinfectants are specific. Most disinfectants kill vegetative bacteria, some contain enough alcohol to efficiently kill coronaviruses, and others designed for surface disinfection may not be effective at all. Disinfectants do not kill spores.

Not all disinfectants commonly used in healthcare facilities effectively kill viruses, and specifically coronavirus. That is why EPA lists antimicrobial wipes and disinfectants currently approved as Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  Many of these are already in short supply.

Cleaning followed by alcohol can help

There may be a simple solution that is readily available—thorough cleaning with a U.S. EPA Safer Choice awarded instrument cleaner followed by wiping and drying with alcohol. According to the CDC, “Alcohols are rapidly bactericidal against vegetative forms of bacteria. They are also tuberculocidcal, fungicidal and virucidal, but do not destroy bacterial spores.”  

Both isopropanol and ethanol are approved actives in the DfE for Pesticides program.  Both of them are recognized by EPA’s DfE program as greener disinfectant actives. Visit Case Medical’s website to learn more about our products for decontamination and surface cleaning.