How long can SARS-Cov-2 resist outside the host body and remain active?

Many groups are trying to answer this question, and some have already highlighted how in the best conditions and on some surfaces, the virus can survive for a longer time than previously thought.

A study conducted by the Australian Center for Disease Preparedness (Geelong, Australia) published in the Virology Journal [1] found out that SARS-Cov-2 can last longer on non-porous or smooth surfaces (glass, stainless steel, vinyl), surviving at lower temperatures. This evidence exploded like a bomb in the scientifical universe, stressing once again the need for good cleansing practices of tool, surfaces and materials.

At ambient temperature (20 ºC), the virus is extremely vital, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as banknotes and glass screens of mobile phones.

In Japan, researchers at the Medical University of Kyoto Prefecture [2] have focused their studies on the resistance of the virus on the human skin, demonstrating a survival up to 9 hours.

Since traces of the virus had been found in fecal samples of affected patients, it was mandatory to proof if fecal-oral route could represent a way of contagion. A research about survival of SARS-Cov-2 in water [3] showed a low stability of the virus, very sensitive to oxidants such as chlorine. But as far as we know, viruses tend to mutate over time to adapt to the human body and adverse external conditions, because their natural purpose is to be endemic.

Two of the most accredited studies available to date, one published in the New England Journal of Medicine [4] and one in The Lancet [5], focused on the survival time of the virus, showing the following results:

Air: up to 3 hours 
Copper: up to 4 hours
Carton: 24 hours 
Wood: up to 2 days
Card: up to 4 days
Glass: up to 4 days
Plastic: from 3 to 7 days
Stainless steel: 3 to 7 days

In the light of these evidences, there’s the need of an agent able to inactivate the pathogens on the inanimate surfaces. Ultraviolet light (UV) plays a key role in INACTIVATING bacteria and viruses, such as SARS-Cov-2, very quickly, as reported by Lodovico Parmegiani (CEO Nterilizer) and Gábor Vajta (professor at BGI Shenzhen in China and at Central Queensland University, Rockhampton in Australia) on 14 October 2020 on Human Reproduction [5]. This publication, aimed mainly at the world of assisted reproductive technology (ART) but extensible in all contexts, highlights that the risks of this pandemic are not only linked to patients, operators, contaminated cells and tissues, but also to liquid nitrogen, cryogenic fluid necessary for various procedures both in the field of biotechnology and in the food industry.

Therefore, it is of primary importance to professionals in every field, in particular those involved in ART, not underestimate the potential risk of SARS-Cov-2 infection mediated by liquid nitrogen and its vapors.

Nowadays, in these times of SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, implementing strategies to prevent contamination, such as liquid nitrogen sterilization, has become of primary importance.


TAGS: SARS-CoV-2, covid-19, surfaces, skin, water, aerosol, liquid nitrogen, sterilization, nterilizer



[1] The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces.

Riddell S, Goldie S, Hill A, Eagles D, Drew TW.

Virol J. 2020 Oct 7;17(1):145. doi: 10.1186/s12985-020-01418-7. PMID: 33028356; PMCID: PMC7538848.


[2] Survival of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus on the human skin: Importance of hand hygiene in COVID-19.

Hirose R, Ikegaya H, Naito Y, Watanabe N, Yoshida T, Bandou R, Daidoji T, Itoh Y, Nakaya T.

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Oct 3:ciaa1517. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1517. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33009907.


[3] Coronavirus in water environments: Occurrence, persistence and concentration methods - A scoping review. 

La Rosa G, Bonadonna L, Lucentini L, Kenmoe S, Suffredini E.

Water Res. 2020;179:115899. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2020.115899


[4] Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1.

Van Doremalen N, Bushmaker T, Morris DH, Holbrook MG, Gamble A, Williamson BN, Tamin A, Harcourt JL, Thornburg NJ, Gerber SI, Lloyd-Smith JO, de Wit E, Munster VJ..

N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 16;382(16):1564-1567. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973. Epub 2020 Mar 17. PMID: 32182409; PMCID: PMC7121658.


[5] Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions.

Chin AWH, Chu JTS, Perera MRA, Hui KPY, Yen HL, Chan MCW, Peiris M, Poon LLM.

Lancet Microbe. 2020 May;1(1):e10. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(20)30003-3. Epub 2020 Apr 2. PMID: 32835322; PMCID: PMC7214863.


[6] Letter: COVID-19 in liquid nitrogen: a potential danger still disregarded.

Lodovico Parmegiani, Gábor Vajta, Human Reproduction.