Omicron survives over 21 hours on skin and more than 8 days on plastic: Study

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 11:28 PM(IST)

The research noted that Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants showed a slight increase in resistance to ethanol in response to increased environmental stability. Photograph:( Twitter )

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The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study stated that Omicron can survive on the skin for over 21 hours and more than eight days on any plastic surface.

A study by Japanese researchers has claimed that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 can remain alive on skin and plastic more than the earlier variants like Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma.

The researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan analysed the differences in viral environmental stability between the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain and all variants of concern (VOCs).

The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, posted recently on the preprint repository BioRxiv, stated that Omicron can survive on the skin for over 21 hours and more than eight days on any plastic surface.

Hence, it might be the reason why Omicron spreads faster than other strains, the study noted.

“The high environmental stability of these VOCs could increase the risk of contact transmission and contribute to their spread,” the authors of the study said.

“This study showed that Omicron has the highest environmental stability among VOCs, which might be one of the factors that have allowed the variant to replace the Delta variant and spread rapidly,” they said.

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The study found that the Omicron variant can survive up to 193.5 hours on plastic surfaces and 21.1 hours on the skin.

In comparison, the original strain and other later variants like Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants survived for 56 hours, 191.3 hours, 156.6 hours, 59.3 hours, and 114 hours, respectively.

Whereas on the skin, the average virus survival times were 8.6 hours for the original version, 19.6 hours for Alpha, 19.1 hours for Beta, 11 hours for Gamma and 16.8 hours for Delta, they said.

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The findings also analysed the effectiveness of ethanol-based sanitisers on the variants.

The research noted that Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants showed a slight increase in resistance to ethanol in response to increased environmental stability.

Whereas on the skin surface, all VOCs were completely inactivated by 15-second exposure to 35 per cent ethanol.

"Therefore, it is highly recommended that current infection control (hand hygiene) practices use disinfectants... as proposed by the World Health Organisation,” the researchers added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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