Sharing of “low risk” sports equipment


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  • A study by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine applied living particles of Covid-19 to various sports equipment to test the lifespan of the virus on each surface.
  • The study concluded that the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from sharing equipment is “lower than previously thought”.
  • The study has not been peer reviewed.

    Researchers led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine applied living coronavirus particles to nine different types of sports equipment and testing equipment to assess the risk of transmission. Low dose and high dose of coronavirus were applied to cricket glove, soccer ball, golf ball, piece of gym pit foam, horse saddle, red and white cricket balls, a rugby ball and a tennis ball. The control material was a piece of stainless steel.

    The different surfaces were swabbed after one minute, five minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 90 minutes to determine if the virus could be transferred through the equipment at times relevant to the sport in question.

    Researchers found that the virus was the least transferable to absorbent materials, such as cricket gloves and tennis balls, and the most transferable to non-porous materials like rugby balls and horse saddles.

    The study found that when the low dose was applied, the virus was recoverable in seven of 10 items after one minute and only one (the horse’s saddle) after five minutes. None of the 10 items showed detectable levels of coronavirus after 15 minutes.

    When the high dose was applied, the virus was recoverable in nine of 10 items (all except the cricket glove) after one minute and five minutes. At 30 minutes he was recoverable on six out of 10 items, and at 90 minutes he was still recoverable on the rugby ball and saddle.

    The study, currently awaiting peer review, concluded that “the average virus recovery fell for all materials to 0.74% at one minute, 0.39% at 15 minutes and 0.003% at 90 minutes”.

    The study also concluded that “it seems unlikely that sports equipment is a major cause of transmission of SARS-CoV-2”.

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