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Dr Bec's Fact Checks #1

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Dr Bec’s Fact Checks  #1 How long can SARS-CoV-2 live on surfaces & in the air?

A lot of the research around this fact has been terrifying for people I’ve been speaking to, thinking about not leaving the house, wearing gloves to go shopping & putting on masks even if they are not displaying respiratory symptoms. Now this may be a superb idea for anyone who is feeling sick or is immune compromised or elderly, but it seems the science doesn’t necessarily support the huge levels of fear in the community.

Here’s the facts as they were know on March 21, reported by Carolyn Machamer a cell biologist who specialises in coronaviruses (paper attached below).

– The study that reports that the virus can be detected in the air for 3hrs was using fine aerosols in lab conditions which do not replicate the real world exactly. Professor Machamer notes that the particles that are expelled in a cough or sneeze are much larger & heavier so drop to the ground much quicker so are therefore not airborne for anything like that time, so there is very little to fear from viruses just “hanging around in the air”.

– Professor Machamer also addressed the reports of the virus being detected on surfaces, in the case of plastic, for up to 72 hours. Her point to this was, yes, they have been able to detected a virus for up to that time, but in such minute quantities (less than 0.1% of the starting virus materials) that it is much less scary than it sounds. She says that infection is theoretically impossible at these levels. A wipe over of surfaces with disinfectant or soap disables the oily surface coat of the virus so that it cannot infect a host cell. Her suggestion is to be cautious, but certainly not panicky.

So if you are staying at home if you are unwell (and encouraging others to do the same), wiping high contact surfaces with disinfectant or soap, washing your hands regularly and keeping 2m away from people when you’re out in public then you have nothing to fear. As always, drink water, eat well, get some sunshine & exercise & do whatever you normally do to keep your immune system up & your body will do what its designed to do.

Hang in there guys and remember that we’re here for you any time. Shoot me some questions, I’m in the mood for some fear-busting.

Virtual hugs
Dr Bec

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