This Phase 1 review includes analysis and summary of findings from available scientific literature on SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) through mid-May 2020. This review focused on studies of how the virus is spread, virus attenuation on commonly found materials, and effectiveness of prevention and decontamination measures.
Please note: A Phase 2 systematic literature review will be published in mid-October that includes updated or revised findings that have emerged since this review was produced.
How the virus spreads
SARS-CoV-2 is generally thought to spread through virus-containing water droplets expelled from infected persons through sneezing, coughing, speaking, and other breathing-related actions; and objects that contain the virus on their surfaces (also known as fomites).
Other possible ways in need of more study are small aerosol particles, fecal matter (in solid and aerosol forms), and other airborne routes.
Environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, ventilation/air flow, and air conditioning may also affect the spread of SARS-CoV-2. But additional research is needed to verify and/or clarify these ideas.
Survival on surfaces
If SARS-CoV-2 gets spread to surfaces or materials, it seems to survive for different amounts of time depending on the type of surface or material, before dying off on its own.
A few early studies (not peer-reviewed) reported that the virus may survive longer on plastics and stainless steel than on paper products and other metals, such as copper.
However, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions from their results at this time. That’s because there were a small number of studies, differences in the way scientists conducted the studies, and other confounding factors.
Prevention and decontamination
Researchers suggested several feasible, low-cost options for reducing the presence of SARS-CoV-2, which may help keep people from getting the virus:
As you read this systematic literature review, keep in mind a few key points: