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Evidence of Wider Environmental Transmission of SARS-CoV-2; Assessing risk of transmission through outdoor air, water, outdoor surfaces, and food

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Graham



This is the final published version of a report that has been published in its final definitive form by Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


A number of significant evidence gaps hamper assessment of transmission risk of SARS-CoV2 through environmental pathways. While various studies have detected viral RNA signatures from environmental samples (from air, water, treated effluents and sewage and surfaces) using RT-PCR, infectivity has not been assessed in most cases. Very few studies have investigated the presence of infective virus using culture techniques. In addition, the infective dose of SARSCoV-2 is still uncertain. Assessments of risk and uncertainty therefore draw heavily on expert judgement and knowledge of other pathogens throughout this document. The level of risk of catching SARS-CoV-2 from the environment is highly dependent on the levels of infective SARSCoV-2 circulating in the population and its geographical spread.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Henderson G, Bennett A, Callaghan K, Dancer S, Graham DW, Hart A, Jones D, Kay D, Iturriza-Gomara M, Keevil B, Kelly F, McGonigle D, Morgan A, Noakes C, Reid J, Wilson AJ, Wyn-Jones P

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Transmission of Covid-19 in the Wider Environment Group (TWEG), reporting to UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

Type: Review

Year: 2020

Pages: 36

Print publication date: 12/06/2020

Online publication date: 12/06/2020

Acceptance date: 12/06/2020

Institution: Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies

Place Published: London


Contents: Guidance for SAGE on the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the wider environment