A little good news on the COVID-19 front: yes, you can kill the virus on surfaces, with easily available disinfectants.
Copper surfaces, silver particles, alcohol-based disinfectants, and UV light will kill the virus. Frequently touched items, especially in public places, should probably just be irradiated with UVC light and/or coated with copper as a routine prevention measure.
(Regular UV light is an effective disinfectant but can also blind people and burn skin; UVC is a shorter wavelength, equally effective against microbes but not harmful to eyes or skin.)
Do Copper Surfaces Kill/Inactivate Coronaviruses?
In an experiment with aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, at 21-23 degrees C and 40% humidity, both reached undetectable levels within 8 hours exposure to copper; by contrast, they lasted 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic.
H1N1 influenza, which was another pandemic virus, though not a coronavirus, lasted significantly less time on copper than stainless steel; 10^5 viable viruses after 24 hours on stainless steel vs. 10^2 viable viruses after 2 hours on copper.
Human coronavirus 229E remains infectious on plastic, ceramic, glass, and stainless steel for at least 5 days, was inactivated in less than 5 minutes on copper and brass when applied dry, and inactivated in less than an hour when applied in solution to metal alloys containing >75% copper.
Using copper-coated surfaces in real-world environments reduces microbial contamination. In 5 residential healthcare facilities, where half of the doorknobs and handrails were coated with copper alloys while half were not, the bacterial concentration was significantly (p < 0.0001) lower on the copper-coated doorknobs and handrails. Similarly, when weights and grips in a gym were coated with copper alloy or left as rubber or stainless steel, the bacterial concentrations on the copper-coated surfaces were 94% lower than the controls.
Silver Ion Zeolites as Anti-Microbial Surfaces
Commercially available silver zeolite powder (AgION powder, manufactured by Sinanen Co.) completely inactivated SARS-CoV at concentrations above 375 mg/L.
Zeolites are fine, talc-like powders that can be incorporated into coatings to produce antimicrobial surfaces; the FDA has approved zeolites for use in food packaging.
In a study of 7 disinfectant liquids on the SARS coronavirus, including several with >80% ethanol as active ingredient, all of them significantly reduced SARS concentrations, by a factor of at least 1000.
70%+ ethanol was effective at reducing (by a factor of >1000) the infectivity of both SARS and MERS coronaviruses; so was 50%+ 2-propanol, hydrogen peroxide, glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, and povidone iodine. Chlorhexidine was not effective.
In a study of human coronaviruses 229E and OC43, soap, bleach, and Proviodine (the active ingredient was iodine) all completely inactivated the viruses.
Axe dishwashing detergent, sodium hypochlorite solution, and the disinfectant Virkon S, all killed SARS-CoV virus by a factor of at least 1000.
Against two coronaviruses, mouse hepatitis virus and transmissible gastroenteritis virus, a solution of 70% ethanol reduced viral infectivity by a factor of >1000; phenolic, sodium hypochlorite, and orthopthalaldehyde did not.
Exposure of SARS virus to UVC radiation for six minutes results in a 400-fold reduction in infectivity. UVA and gamma radiation did not affect infectivity. Another study of SARS found 1000-fold inactivation from 15 minutes of exposure to UVC.
A study of Ebola virus and MERS virus found that UVC light at >0.1 J/cm^2 reduced infectivity more than 5000-fold in both. Methylene blue plus light at >30 J/cm^2 also reduced infectivity 2000-fold in both.
Far-UVC light (207-222 nm) inactivates bacteria without harm to human skin. It also reduces H1N1 infectivity by 100-fold at low doses: 2 mJ/cm^2.
222-nm far-UVC light applied to a mouse wound where MRSA bacteria had been spread reduced skin bacteria concentrations by >1000-fold, just like 254-nm conventional antimicrobial UV irradiation, but only the 254-nm light increased skin thickness significantly ( a measure of skin damage.)
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