The Facts Relating to Covid-19 Transmission Through Paper/Cardboard Surfaces

There’s been a lot of attention on how different surfaces can retain and potentially spread the Covid-19 virus. The following information, researched by Two Sides UK and published here with their permission, relates to Covid-19 transmission through paper/cardboard surfaces.

The facts

Research and guidance from the world’s leading health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), The Journal of Hospital Infection, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggests that the risk relating to Covid-19 transmission from surfaces is relatively low. According to the World Health Organisation, “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperate is also low.”[1]

The most referenced scientific research on the subject of surface rate of infection is from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), UCLA, and Princeton University, which studied how stable the coronavirus was on different surfaces. It found that of plastic, stainless steel and cardboard, the virus lasted the longest on plastic (up to 72 hours) and the shortest on cardboard (up to 24 hours)[2]. That time is shortened when the surface is exposed to air, with the virus becoming less and less potent the more it’s exposed.

The printing process will also decrease the potency of any virus as the ink and the print makes them actually quite sterile. The chances of infection are therefore very small.[3]

Addressing the concerns

Aside from the manufacturing conditions of paper, plus the printing and distribution processes significantly decreasing the number of viable particles required to infect someone, the material itself is not a good location for the virus to exist. The researchers found that the coronavirus lasts longest on smooth, non-porous surfaces such as plastic. Since paper and cardboard are porous, they carry the lowest potency for the shortest period of time[2].

[1]International News Media Association (inma), 2020
[2]Aerosol and Surface Stability of HCoV-19 (SARS-CoV-2) compared to SARS-CoV-1, 2020
[3]Interview with BBC Radio Scotland, March 2020