Could the coronavirus thrive in this environment?
Could the coronavirus thrive in this environment?

How long can the virus live in a freezer?

Scientists are racing to discover the survival rate of the deadly coronavirus on surfaces, food and even fridges.

While some experts say that COVID-19 could last up to two years at below freezing temperatures, Australia's deputy chief medical officer has raised the issue and revealed we still know very little.

Speaking during a live QandA session on ABC Radio on Sunday night, Professor Michael Kidd admitted that whether the virus could survive in the freezer and if so for long, was something he "had to look up".

A number of theories exist in the scientific community, including the fact that research into similar strains has shown that the virus is stable, if not thrives, in freezing temperatures.

According to the Washington, D.C. based non-profit, Federation of American Scientists, researchers also believe lower temperatures and lower humidity help viruses survive longer. They suspect that the virus would certainly survive being frozen.

"Coronaviruses are, by their nature, 'sticky' viruses," Dr. Warner Greene, a leading virologist and research scientist with the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, told NBC News.

"They can survive for a surprising period of time on surfaces, although they are rapidly dying on these surfaces."

 

 

The New Jersey Department of Health explains a 2010 study "used two viruses that are related to the COVID-19 virus to look at the effects of temperature and humidity on viral survival.

The researcher found that both lower temperatures, at approximately 4C, and lower humidity rate (20 per cent) helped the viruses survive longer.

"More than two thirds of the viruses survived for 28 days. On the other end of the spectrum, at 40C and 80 per cent humidity, the viruses survived for less than 6 hours."

But according to Dr. Mohamad Mooty, Department Chair, Infectious Diseases at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi: "They have been shown to survive for up to two years at -20C."

 

 

Professor Kidd reiterated the research but confirmed we still don't know enough about the virus.

"There has been research on other coronavirus', particularly the SARS virus, which has found the virus can actually stay active even when it's frozen for some time.

"Now, whether that piece of scientific fact is actually relevant in the real world, and particularly for those of us who are putting food into our freezers at home, is not yet known."

Professor Kidd said the research "reinforces the really important issue around shopping".

"When people are going out shopping, they're making sure when we get home they are washing our produce, which may have been touched by other people then put back.

"They're also giving a wipe down to the containers that are containing the food or other items they're buying before they pop them into the cupboard or put them in the freezer.

"It's really important again with the hand hygiene so when you take food out of the freezer and you open a box and discard it in the rubbish and you put the food in the oven or whatever you're doing with it, that you go and wash your hands again."

There has been no evidence so far of people contracting the virus via their grocery shopping.

 

 

Professor Kidd also gave a stark warning over your shoes.

"One of the other things I've picked up over the last week is the importance of actually washing your hands after you take off your shoes because we found the virus can be, if somebody coughs and the virus is on the floor, that it may actually be picked up on the soles of your shoes.

"This is one of the thing we learned through SARS as well, so when you get home and you take off your shoes, wash your hands."

Share your story: youngma@news.com.au | @MattYoung


Meet the Candidate: MP Colin Boyce

Premium Content Meet the Candidate: MP Colin Boyce

AFTER three years as the Member for Callide, Colin Boyce feels that there is plenty...

Virtual reality program helping Dalby students soar

Premium Content Virtual reality program helping Dalby students soar

HERE’S how a new virtual reality program is helping Dalby State High School...

Regions ask parties to safeguard millions of jobs

Premium Content Regions ask parties to safeguard millions of jobs

FIVE major industry bodies are urging political parties to prioritise regions...