The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way just about everything was done. Many companies have started recommending customers use cards instead of cash, but has that really helped slow the spread of the virus?
A new study by researchers at Brigham Young University has found that cards are actually more hospitable to the SARS-CoV-2 virus than cash – by far.
Richard Robison, study author and professor of microbiology and molecular biology at BYU, conducted this study alongside a group of undergraduate students. The research team collected dollar bills, quarters, pennies and credit cards, and presented them with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Cards, cash and coins were then tested after 30 minutes and then again after 4, 24 and 48 hours.
The study, which was recently published in PLOS ONE, found that the virus was almost immediately non-viable when placed in cash, but could still be detected for up to 48 hours after being deposited on payment cards. in plastic.
“I don’t think anyone really expected that,” Robison said. “But to see such a rapid loss of viability in such a short period of time was, I think, one of the big surprises.”
Even after 30 minutes, SARS-CoV-2 was difficult for dollar bill researchers to detect. They found that it had decreased by 99.9993%. No live virus was detectable on the crate after 24 and 48 hours. However, the virus had only reduced payment cards by 90% after 30 minutes.
“While this reduction rate increased to 99.6% in four hours and 99.96% in 24 hours, the live virus was still detectable on the money cards 48 hours later,” reads one. press release distributed by BYU. “Coins behaved similarly to plastic cards, with a strong initial reduction in virus presence, but still tested positive for live virus after 24 and 48 hours.”
Robison was surprised by how the virus reacted on the banknotes, which are 75% cotton and 25% linen. He would like to pursue this line of study further and examine why cash is so inhospitable to the virus.
Robison thinks the myth that using the card is safer than cash payments is reminiscent of other misconceptions about COVID-19 that have grown throughout the pandemic.
“It’s like so many things with this pandemic,” Robison said. “Because we didn’t have the information, so someone just postulates something and says ‘sounds like a good idea’ to me.”
In a second part of the study, researchers also collected dollar bills and coins from BYU’s campus and local businesses to test for the presence of the virus. Ultimately, after swabbing the surface of cash and a collection of payment cards, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was found on randomly sampled cash or cards.
Other study authors included Julianne Grose, professor of microbiology and molecular biology at BYU, and students Colleen Newey, Abigail Olaussson, Alyssa Applegate and Ann-Aubrey Reid.