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COVID-19, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has scourged the world ever since its outbreak in December 2019, affecting over three million people and claiming more than 207 000 lives over 200 countries all over the globe. Human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs primarily by fomites and by respiratory droplets. This has, in turn, fanned public concerns that cash and coins could transmit the virus as well. Central banks have reported a surge in the number of queries from the media on the safety of using cash. Internet searches pertaining to both ‘cash’ and ‘virus’ or ‘COVID’ is at an all-time high.1 The apprehensions have been fuelled by studies that have demonstrated the remarkable stability of SARS-CoV-2 on inanimate objects and surfaces.2 Hence, we have summarised the possibilities of transmission of COVID-19 via currency and the feasible alternatives amid the prevailing circumstances.
1. Does viral transmission occur through cash and coins?
Hitherto available in vitro data do suggest that human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 via cash and coins seems possible. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to be more stable on smooth surfaces, and a detectable level of infectious virus has been recovered from banknotes and stainless steel (coins) even after 2 and 4 days of inoculation, respectively. In addition, a biphasic decay of infectious SARS-CoV-2 has been found in samples recovered from smooth surfaces, thereby further prolonging the duration of stay of the virus.3 However, recovery of the virus from inoculated objects in in vitro often requires elution of the virus by …
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