The Omicron variant of Covid-19, which s highly contagious and transmissible, can survive up to eight days on plastic and 21 hours on the skin, according to a new study from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan. The duration is much longer than other variants of concern like Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, as well as the original strain.
The researchers analysed the differences in viral environmental stability between the original strain and all variants of concern.
The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study posted recently on the preprint repository BioRxiv, found that Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants exhibited more than two fold longer survival on plastic and skin surfaces than the original strain. The researchers found that Omicron survived 21.1 hours on skin model from cadavers, followed by the original strain (8.6 hours), Gamma (11 hours), and Delta (16.8 hours) variant. The survival of Alpha (19.6 hours) and Beta (19.1 hours) was found to be similar.
HIGH ENVIRONMENT STABILITY
Noting that Omicron has the highest environmental stability among the VOCs, the researchers said that this could increase the risk of contact transmission and contribute to their spread.
They found that Omicron can survive 193.5 hours (about eight days) on a plastic surface, which is three times that of the original strain (56 hours) and the Gamma variant (59.3 hours), and Delta (114 hours) and Beta (156.6 hours). Only the Alpha variant, with 191.3 hours, showed similar resistance.
Further, the researchers showed that Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants showed a slight increase in ethanol resistance. They said that all VOCs on the skin surface were completely inactivated in 15 seconds of exposure to alcohol-based hand sanitiser.