The novel COVID-19, despite previous suspicions, is capable of surviving prolonged exposure to high temperatures, according to a study by the University of Aix-Marseille in France, led by Professor Remi Charrel and Boris Pastorino.
In the experiment, scientists found that typically hot temperatures of 60°Celsius (140° Fahrenheit) used to disinfect research labs are ineffective against the coronavirus. Instead, the pathogen may only be killed in a maintained temperature of 92 °C for 15 minutes.
Two swabs were taken from the kidney cells of an African green monkey which was infected with coronavirus. One swab was heated as is while the other was used with animal proteins “to simulate the biological contamination found in real samples,” according to the Daily Mail.
When heated to 60 °C for an hour, however, the virus stayed on the latter and even replicated at the prolonged high temperature, indicating that the virus, even after the regular disinfection process in a lab, may still linger.
When disinfected at 92 °C, the virus is seemingly successfully wiped out, but because its RNA gets damaged in the process, the sensitivity of the check is harmed.
The team noted that in samples with smaller loads of the virus, the 60 °C should be enough to deactivate it, but in cases with larger loads of infection, the near-boiling point is necessary.
The researchers concluded that using chemicals rather than heat to disinfect would be the best way to go.
According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese testing facilities were aware of these dangers and therein had lab workers take extra precautions, such as wearing a full hazmat suit.
The study, according to Newsweek, has not yet been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal and should therefore not be taken as fact.