Omicron found to survive longer on skin and plastic; nose swabs best for detection of virus

January 26, 2022
Omicron found to survive longer on skin and plastic; nose swabs best for detection of virus

Japanese researchers have found the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is able to survive longer on human skin and plastic surfaces than all previous variants, likely due to its high “environmental stability” i.e., its ability to remain infectious.

Laboratory experiments using skin samples from cadavers showed the average virus survival times were 8.6 hours for the original variant, 19.6 hours for Alpha, 19.1 hours for Beta, 11.0 hours Gamma, 16.8 hours for Delta and 21.1 hours for Omicron. On plastic surfaces, average survival times were 56 hours, 191.3 hours, 156.6 hours, 59.3 hours, 114.0 hours, and 193.5 hours, for the original strain and the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron variants, respectively.

Fortunately, all these variants were completely inactivated by 15 seconds of exposure to alcohol-based hand sanitisers – it is highly recommended that current infection control (hand hygiene) practices use disinfectants, as proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, other research has found nasal swabbing more positively detects a coronavirus infection instead of swabbing the throat or cheek. San Francisco, US, researchers had performed both PCR and Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests on 731 people, where nasal swabbing “detected over 95% of persons with the highest levels of virus who are most likely contagious”; throat swabs detected nearly 40% fewer cases than nose swabs.

A separate Spanish study also found nostril swabbing to be far more reliable for detecting an infectious virus. While some experts to advise users to swab the throat, the US Food and Drug Administration maintained COVID-19 test kits should be used as directed.

Read: Prenetics HK launches home rapid detection kit for COVID-19

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Category: Education, Features

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