Omicron survives on skin for 21 hours: Study

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oi-Prakash KL

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Tokyo, Jan 26: Covid-19’s new variant Omicron can survive on skin for 21 hours and on plastic surfaces, it will stay alive for eight days, a study said.

Omicron survives on skin for 21 hours: Study

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), PTI reported. The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, posted recently on the preprint repository BioRxiv, found that the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants exhibited more than two-fold longer survival on plastic and skin surfaces, than the Wuhan strain.

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

The findings state that average survival times of the original strain os 56 hours, Alpha (191.3 hours), Beta (156.6 hours), Gamma (59.3 hours) and Delta (114 hours). Whereas Omicron survives for 193.5 hours, according to the researchers.

On skin samples, average virus survival times were 8.6 hours for the original version, 19.6 hours for Alpha, 19.1 hours for Beta, 11 hours Gamma, 16.8 hours for Delta and 21.1 hours for Omicron, they said. There was no significant difference in survival times between Alpha and Beta variants, and they had similar environmental stability, which is consistent with the results of previous studies, according to the researchers.

Although Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants showed a slight increase in ethanol resistance in response to increased environmental stability, all VOCs on the skin surface 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 Organization,” the researchers added. The Omicron variant is currently a major concern owing to the rapidly increasing number of infected patients worldwide. PTI

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Story first published: Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 18:45 [IST]



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