While there are many researches being carried over COVID-19 variant Omicron, a new study says that the variant can remain alive on the skin for over 21 hours, and more than eight days on plastic surfaces. The study also pointed out that this could be the reason why it spreads faster compared to other strains.
The researchers from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan analysed the differences in viral environmental stability between the SARS-CoV-2 strain that originated in Wuhan and all variants of concern (VOCs).
However the study is yet to be peer reviewed and was posted recently on the preprint repository BioRxiv. The study found that the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants exhibited more than two-fold longer survival on plastic and skin surfaces than the original strain.
"The high environmental stability of these VOCs could increase the risk of contact transmission and contribute to their spread," the authors of the study said.
The study shows that on plastic surfaces, the average survival times of the original strain and the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants were 56 hours, 191.3 hours, 156.6 hours, 59.3 hours, and 114 hours, respectively.
However, the Omicron variant could survive for 193.5 hours, according to the researchers.
On skin samples, average virus survival times were 8.6 hours for the original version, 19.6 hours for Alpha, 19.1 hours for Beta, 11 hours for Gamma, 16.8 hours for Delta and 21.1 hours for Omicron, they said.
There was no significant difference in survival times between the Alpha and Beta variants, and they had similar environmental stability, which is consistent with the results of previous studies, according to the researchers.
Meanwhile an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study showed that individuals infected with Omicron have significant immune response which could neutralise not only Omicron, but also other variants of concern, including the most prevalent Delta variant.