A New England Journal of Medicine article authored by van Doremalen et al. reported that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the newly emerged strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infections, retains infectivity in aerosols and on a variety of common surfaces for extended periods of time. Most significantly, while the virus remained infective on plastic and 304 stainless steel for up to 48-72 hours, inactivation was observed in 4 hours on a 99.9% copper alloy.
Another coronavirus, Human Coronavirus 229E (Hu-CoV-229E) causes a broad spectrum of lung disorders. An article published in 2015 authored by Warnes et al.3 showed that Hu-CoV-229E remained infectious following exposure to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE or Teflon), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ceramic tile, glass, silicone rubber, and stainless steel, but was rapidly inactivated on copper and on a range of copper-zinc and copper-nickel alloys. Complete loss of infectious activity was reached after as little as a 5-minute exposure, depending on the particular alloy tested. Not only was the inactivation rapid but it was accompanied by the irreversible destruction of viral RNA and massive structural damages.
van Doremalen, N. T. et al., 2020. Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1. N. Engl. Jour. Med. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973
Warnes, S.L., Z.R. Little, C.W. Keevil, 2015. Human coronavirus 229E remains infectious on common touch surface materials. mBio 6:e01697-15.