New studies shed light on how to treat BA.2 COVID variant, how long it survives on surfaces

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the BA.2 subvariant of omicron continues to spread, researchers are focused on understanding how to treat this coronavirus variant and how it works.

"They looked at how long the virus remains on a surface and can still be recoverable. They used both plastic and skin from cadavers," said Dr. George Rutherford, UCSF Professor Epidemiology.

The study by researchers in Japan was held in a lab which could influence its outcome. Researchers tested multiple COVID variants and noticed that Omicron lasted the longest.

Dr. Rutherford and UC Berkeley Infectious Disease Expert Dr. John Swartzberg agree that the greatest risk of infection continues to be by droplets in the air.

"At least with the cadaver skin experiments, they were all neutralized within 15 second without ethanol alcohol," said Dr. Rutherford.

"Either close to somebody where larger droplets can get onto our mouth or nose, or eyes or even distances. Particularly inside 30 feet away if the virus gets inside and floats and we inhale it," said Dr. Swartzberg.

VIDEO: Here's what Europe's omicron BA.2 COVID surge means for the Bay Area
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Reports of COVID surges in Asia and Europe are raising questions about what the next few months could look like in the Bay Area.

Another study by Washington University researchers points to an AstraZeneca antibody-based COVID-19 drug as a way to neutralize omicrons' BA.2 variant.

"It's a very clever construction of two monoclonal antibodies, that put together, they will bind to virus so it will give you protection just like your own antibodies will do," said Dr. Swartzberg.

AstraZeneca's Evusheld treatment is meant for people who may not respond to the vaccine and can't generate their own immune response.

"This will provide full immunity for long periods of time. Currently, you need to get it repeatedly every six months. It has some real long lasting staying power," said Dr. Rutherford.

Both studies are reprints and still need to be peer reviewed.

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