Masks, social distancing, and hand sanitation are the three main recommendations when it comes to measures to be taken to prevent the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the coronavirus that triggers COVID-19. Taking care of your hygiene is essential, and not touching your nose and mouth with your hands is necessary, but we must also pay attention to the surfaces and objects with which we come into contact most often, and the most important is undoubtedly the smartphone.
Now, a team of Australian researchers analyzed the life span of SARS-CoV-2 on different surfaces and conditions. The researchers has published the results of the study focused on how long the coronavirus survives on mobile screens.
According to the team, the coronavirus can withstand up to nearly a month (28 days) on glass, stainless steel, and paper or polymer banknotes if an ambient temperature of 20°C is maintained with 50% relative humidity.
As you can see, these experiments have been carried out in a laboratory with a controlled environment, very different from the usual circumstances in which we can find the coronavirus in our daily lives. Therefore, this study does not say that the coronavirus will remain on our smartphones for 28 days — only in the best conditions for its growth; it can last that long.
Although this study is important to better understand the virus, its publication in the media has received criticism. According to the BBC, some scientists fear that this study will cause “unnecessary fear in public” since nobody will live in the same conditions as in the experiment.
In the opinion of critics, the coronavirus is actually only able to stay on surfaces for a few hours. The key, in addition to ultraviolet light, is in the presence of mucosa with white blood cells and antibodies. Also, recently a group of researchers from Caltech developed a graphene sensor to detect the coronavirus in minutes, without doctors.