Omicron survives longer on plastic surfaces and skin

The beginning of 2022 has been marred by the looming presence of Omicron, the latest and currently most dominant variant of COVID-19. Infections surged right after the holidays, and it has resulted in fresh lockdown restrictions for affected areas.

We all have a role to play in this pandemic. Most of us stay at home to keep ourselves and everybody else safe. Healthcare professionals do their jobs around the clock. Delivery riders cross untold distances to bring people food and essentials. It's been the norm for the past two years, but new findings from a recent Japanese study could change how we see and interact with the virus. It could even alter how we use and clean our vehicles on a daily basis.

Cleaning car interior

Researchers from Japan recently found that the Omicron variant survives longer on plastic surfaces and human skin. How long exactly? The data shows that Omicron can live on plastic surfaces for up to eight days. For comparison, the Delta variant can survive on plastic for about 114 hours or 4.75 days.

On human skin, Omicron survived for 21.1 hours. Again, for comparison, the Delta variant only endured for 16.8 hours. That said, Omicron, Delta, and all the variants were wiped out within fifteen seconds when exposed to alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

What does this tell us? Firstly, disinfectants are still among our core weapons for battling Omicron. Second, we need to evaluate how we interact with our environment on account of the variant's longer survival time on plastic and skin. Third, we may need to change how we use and clean our vehicles.

Cleaning car interior

For example, we may need to pay more attention to how we use our vehicles. Many car interiors today feature hard plastics all around. Of course, avoiding all that would be cumbersome, so we should at least take care to disinfect these surfaces more often. Even if you have a more premium vehicle with less plastics and more soft-touch material like leather, you would do well to disinfect your car's interior regularly. Even luxury vehicles have some plastic material one way or anorher, and coupled with Omicron's longer survival rate on human skin, protection is still a must. It's up to you how to approach this, but a simple cleaning of touch-heavy cabin surfaces after each use could be effective.

Another great example is be food and item delivery services, which we have relied on more and more throughout the pandemic. Riders have their own safety protocols, including contactless delivery, but it's still best to apply additional precautions. That might include disinfecting food packages or transferring items from their original packaging before consumption.

Although some say we're closer to the end of the pandemic than we've ever been, the fight is not over yet. Infections are happening on the ground, and with this new information, we just might gain another defense against COVID-19. As always, keep practicing basic health recommendations and stay safe. 

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