The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab.
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab.

Disturbing discovery about virus

The coronavirus can survive long exposures to high temperatures, a new peer-reviewed study published on Biorxiv has shown.

Researchers had to bring the temperature to almost boiling point to kill the virus completely.

The finding could have implications for the safety of lab technicians working with the virus.

Most labs use a 60C, hour-long process to deactivate the virus before further processing. But Professor Remi Charrel and colleagues at Aix-Marsellie University in France found that after heating the virus to 60C for an hour it was still able to replicate.

Only heating the virus to 92C for 15 minutes was able to totally kill it.

COVID-19, the pandemic which has taken hold of the world, is a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by the virus designated SARS-CoV-2.

 

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab.
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab.

 

While the world has gone into lockdown as a way to reduce person-to-person transmission of the disease, scientists around the globe have been working around the clock to study the virus, potentially putting researchers at risk of infection.

The French scientists noted there were few studies on the inactivation protocols aimed at mitigating the risk of exposure for medical and laboratory personnel.

Also, because using high temperatures can severely fragment the virus's DNA, researchers suggested using chemicals instead of heat to kill the virus.

 

An electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. Picture: AFP
An electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. Picture: AFP

 

"The results presented in this study should help to choose the best protocol for inactivation in order to prevent exposure of laboratory personnel in charge of direct and indirect detection of SARS-CoV-2 for diagnostic purposes," the authors of the study said, the SCMP reported.

It's still unclear to what extent the virus is affected by temperatures.

There was some hope that the virus would not replicate as well in hotter climates with some studies suggesting tropical countries reported fewer COVID-19 cases.

But recent research shows the virus continues to spread in summer.

"The transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 showed no signs of weakening in warm and humid conditions," a Chinese study published in journal JAMA Network Open found earlier this month.

Originally published as Disturbing discovery about virus


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