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Scientists have failed to infect cells with coronavirus through dirty surfaces

Previous studies were based on a PCR test to detect virus RNA and did not try to cultivate a live pathogen, the researchers said in London, writes

Photo: Shutterstock

Scientists could not detect the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus capable of infection on contaminated surfaces, and for the study they took smears from hospitals at the peak of the epidemic. A preprint of a report by a group of authors from Imperial College London is published on the medRxiv server.

Note: The article has the status of preprint. This means that the results of the report have not yet been confirmed by an independent expert assessment, as is customary in science, therefore they should not be used for clinical practice. During the pandemic, there is a lot of research - expert panels do not have time to process them promptly.

Samples were collected on April 2–20 using a cotton swab over an area of ​​25 cm2 in the wards of a group of hospitals in northwest London. At that time, all hospitals were fully occupied by patients with COVID-19. The virus was tried to be cultured in Vero E6 (African green monkey kidney) and Caco2 (human colon cancer) cells.

Bottom line: the viral genome was found in 114 of 218 (52,3%) surface and 14 of 31 (38,7%) air samples, but the virus could not be cultured. In addition, virus RNA levels found on surfaces in the hospital were below the minimum that can be cultured two hours after the pathogen has been deposited.

On the subject: To disinfect or not: no known spread of coronavirus across surfaces by WHO

The authors added that viral RNA may have remained on surfaces for more than two hours prior to sample collection: “We were unable to determine if our inability to culture the virus was due to low RNA levels or the time elapsed since the pathogen settled on the surface, or both.”

Previously, repeated studies were carried out, which indicated that SARS-CoV-2 supposedly can “survive” on dry surfaces and in aerosols from several days to weeks, especially on smooth surfaces. But so far, understanding of the role of surface and air pollution in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is limited, scientists write.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes: “The transmission of the new coronavirus to humans from surfaces infected with the virus has not been documented; it occurs much more often through microdroplets from an infected person than through objects and surfaces, ”but at the same time they call for disinfecting everything.

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