Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Dstl release research on stability of COVID-19 in the air

Comparison of cells with and without infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus 
Dstl research on the stability of the COVID-19 virus in the air also supports the scientific advice provided to the Government on COVID-19 control measures


The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has published a research paper on the stability of the COVID-19 virus in the air through the Emerging Microbes and Infections journal.

The paper “Experimental aerosol survival of SARS-CoV-2 in artificial saliva and tissue culture media at medium and high humidity”, written by a team of Dstl scientists, outlines the research completed on the stability of the COVID-19 virus in the air. It also supports the scientific advice provided to the Government on COVID-19 control measures.


The findings indicate that the COVID-19 virus may remain viable in the dark for at least 90 minutes under certain conditions, if produced within small-particle aerosols. These findings provide direct, corroborating evidence that will help inform how the virus behaves within healthcare environments.

Coughing and sneezing generally produce large particles of saliva, but smaller particles will also be produced. Small particles are also produced during routine activities such as talking and breathing. Smaller aerosol particles may be of concern because they may stay buoyant in the air for longer, travel further and be able to penetrate further into the respiratory tract when inhaled.

Dstl, the science inside UK national security, has used its capability to investigate the generation of virus-containing particles to study the survival of the virus under different conditions. The research paper has also been shared with the Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and can be viewed here.

Tim Atkins, OBE and Senior Scientist at Dstl said:  “These scientific findings will contribute to international scientific understanding of the virus, and therefore help to resolve this global crisis. The more scientific research undertaken across the world the more enriched the understanding of how Coronavirus behaves. This will be critical moving forward to ensuring we give the best advice to people on how to stay safe.”

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