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Copper kills coronavirus as experts find bug only survives on metal for 4 hours – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces so cleaning regimes in homes, workplaces and hospitals have massively increased.

But now experts say that copper can actually kill germs itself – limiting the need for antibacterial wipes or sprays.

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New research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that Sars-Cov-2 – the virus responsible for the coronavirus pandemic – could only survive on copper's surface for four hours.

In comparison, it was still detected on plastic surfaces after 72 hours.

The study, led by Neeltje van Doremalen, a virologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one of the first into how long the new virus can survive on different surfaces.

Her team of researchers also discovered that Covid-19 can survive in droplets for up to three hours after being coughed out into the air.


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Meanwhile, fine droplets between 1-5 micrometres in size – or about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair – can remain airborne for several hours.

The findings suggest that coronavirus can survive for longer on plastic surfaces than copper-based ones.

Previous research has found that copper has antimicrobial properties – which means it can kill microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.

A study published in Health Environments Research and Design Journal in 2015 found that copper can kill MRSA, E.coli, Influenza A and norovirus, on contact.

They also determined that most germ-ridden surfaces in hospitals were bed rails, call buttons, chair arms, tray table and IV poles.

The researchers replaced them with copper components and found that there was an 83 per cent reduction in bacteria than on surfaces in rooms with traditional materials.

They also found that infection rates were reduced by 58 per cent.

Treated metal

Copper can be used in the home, however experts say that most products have been treated to prevent oxidation, which causes the metal to turn to a greenish-blue colour over time.

This treatment can also reduce the benefits of the antimicrobial properties of copper.

Moreover, the virus has to come into contact with copper for it be killed – something that's referred to as "contact killing".

The precise way it does this is not yet fully understood, but some scientists suggest it's a process known as "mis-metalation".

Professor Michael Johnson, of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told Insider: "Mis-metalation is the ability of a metal to basically replace another metal.

"Copper can just replace some of the other metals that are present in some of these other proteins [in bacteria] and by doing so, it blocks the function of those proteins."

He explained that blocking a protein's function starts a "bacteria-killing chain reaction".

Prof Johnson added: "By blocking the function of the protein, you block the function of the pathway.

"When you block the function of the pathway, you block the function of the organism, and then the organism is just dead in the water."

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