Tufts researcher: Much still unknown about how virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted by touching surfaces

It’s still too early to tell how COVD-19 spreads on surfaces, a Tufts University researcher warns — so keep cleaning.
Gabrielle String
Although numerous research papers have been written about COVID-19, crucial data still is missing on how the virus that causes the disease is transmitted by touching surfaces and how the pathway to that transmission can be interrupted, said Gabrielle String, a post-doctoral scholar in environmental engineering at Tufts.
“We still have such a gap in understanding how surfaces contribute to the transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the virus that causes COVID-19, said String. “Researchers need to standardize how we’re testing because we really need to compare data so that we can make solid recommendations.”
Over the summer, a Tufts research team combed through 96,000 articles on COVID in the databases of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of that number, 78 were about surface disinfection, String said.
Some of those studies looked at which settings had surfaces that had virus on them, she said, but the research didn’t look at whether the virus on those surfaces was infectious.
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Other studies examined how long the virus could persist on surfaces. They found that as temperature and humidity increases, the virus lasts a shorter amount of time.
“Now when we’re in colder months,” String said, “we need more data to see how long the virus lasts on surfaces in lower temperatures and lower humidity.”
More research also needs to be done on disinfection, she said. Both the World Health Organization and the CDC recommend that if a surface is dirty, it should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with at least 70% alcohol or five tablespoonfuls of bleach per gallon of water.

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