CDC: Contact with surface less than 1 in 10,000 chance of infection

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19, higher ed institutions should clean and disinfect “surfaces that are touched a lot by different people”. These include door handles and knobs, countertops, computer keyboards, and mice as well as other things.

To most people by now, cleaning and infecting is a standard practice they have come to expect in crowded places. Grocery stores, restaurants, and numerous other establishments have invested extensively in cleaning and disinfecting. After all, numerous health organizations like the WHO have recommended cleaning surfaces to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections.

But according to a new CDC study, however, cleaning and disinfecting have a very little impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19. The risk of contacting COVID-19 by surfaces is very low.

Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) studies have been conducted to understand and characterize the relative risk of SARS-CoV-2 fomite transmission and evaluate the need for and effectiveness of prevention measures to reduce risk. Findings of these studies suggest that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection via the fomite transmission route is low, and generally less than 1 in 10,000, which means that each contact with a contaminated surface has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection

The CDC is not the first to say this. Scientists have warned that surfaces are generally not how respiratory diseases like COVID-19 spread, therefore deep cleaning has very little impact on controlling COVID-19 transmission. The CDC’s official update on this while vindicating is a little too late.

For small businesses that have spent so much on labor and cleaning materials to combat the virus, this is a slap in the face. Childcare providers in Minnesota, for instance, faced a significant increase in their operating costs as they had to spend more on cleaning materials at a time when their revenue was decreasing. Yet this was all, apparently, for very little benefit.

Once again, we are reminded about how throughout the pandemic, a big emphasis was placed on feel-good actions that have little impact on COVID-19 outcomes.