The study confirms the low probability that SARS-CoV-2 on hospital surfaces will be infectious

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A color scanning electron micrograph of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Credit: NIAID

A new study by UC Davis researchers confirms the low likelihood that SARS-CoV-2 contamination on hospital surfaces will be contagious. The study, published on June 24 a PLOS ONE, is the original report on the recovery of almost complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences directly from surface swabs.

“Our team was the first to demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 virus sequences could be identified from environmental swabs collected in surfaces, ”said Angela Haczku, respiratory immunologist and lead author of the study.

Change in cleaning and ICU protocols related to lower SARS-CoV-2 contamination

In April 2020, an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred led an interdisciplinary team of researchers at UC Davis to investigate whether there was frequent surface virus contamination in patients serving ICUs and staff meeting areas at UC Davis Medical Center. At that time there was much debate about the role of fomites (surfaces) in the spread of the disease. They collected several samples during the first (April 2020) and second (August 2020) COVID-19 waves of surfaces and air conditioning filters in the hospital.

The researchers analyzed the buffers for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and infectivity and the suitability of RNA for sequencing was assessed.

Despite a significant increase in the number of hospital patients with COVID-19 during the second wave, the team found that only 2% of swabs tested positive in August, compared to 11% of samples collected. in April.

“The reduction in virus contamination is probably due to improved patient management and cleaning protocols in the ICU,” Haczku said. Haczku is a professor of medicine, director of the UC Davis Lung Center and associate dean for translational research at UC Davis School of Medicine.

Coronavirus genomic sequence found on surfaces

The study showed that by genome sequencing, SARS-CoV-2 could be detected even from samples that would otherwise give negative (undetectable) tests using commonly used PCR tests. The results also confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 RNA collected from a surface, although containing an almost intact genomic sequence, was not infectious. This finding supports the hypothesis that contaminated surfaces may not be an important form of COVID-19 disease spread.

“For the first time, to our knowledge, we were able to determine the sequence of the viral genome from surface swab samples obtained in a hospital setting,” said David Coil, a UC Davis Genome Center project scientist and first author of the ‘study. “We found SARS-CoV-2 in samples that have been tested negative for RT-PCR, suggesting that sequencing technology is superior for virus detection in environmental samples.”

According to Coil, genome sequencing performed on hospital surface swab samples is very important. By obtaining accurate viral genomic sequences, researchers could track the source and find out how an infection moves.

“Our data indicated that the sequences determined for viral RNA from surfaces were identical to those derived from patients hospitalized in the ICU at the time of collection. The ability to identify viruses sequences of environmental samples can be of great importance to public health in monitoring outbreaks and controlling the spread of new viral variants, ”Haczku said.


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More information:
David A. Coil et al, SARS-CoV-2 detection and genomic sequencing of hospital surface samples collected at UC Davis, PLOS ONE (2021). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0253578

Citation: A study confirms the low probability that SARS-CoV-2 on hospital surfaces will be infectious (2021, June 25) recovered on June 25, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-likelihood -sars-cov-hospital- surfaces-infectious.html

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