The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus can survive longer on skin and plastic compared to previous COVID-19 variants, Reuters reports.

What’s happening: Scientists in Japan recently conducted a study that found the omicron variant might have high “environmental stability” that helped it remain infectious beyond just people breathing on each other, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The ability to survive for a long time on different surfaces may have helped omicron outpace the delta variant to become the dominant COVID-19 variant, according to Euro News.

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By the numbers: The omicron variant can last for 193.5 hours on plastic surfaces.

  • The alpha variant lasted 56 hours, while the beta variant lasted for 191.3 hours.
  • Similarly, the gamma variant lasted on plastic for 59.3 hours and the delta variant survived for 114 hours.
  • On the skin, omicron can survive for 21.1 hours. The alpha variant survived for 19.6 hours, which was the highest of all other COVID-19 variants.

What they’re saying: “This study showed that the omicron variant also has the highest environmental stability among VOCs (variants of concern), which suggests that this high stability might also be one of the factors that have allowed the omicron variant to replace the delta variant and spread rapidly,” the authors wrote, per Euro News.

  • “Therefore,” the researchers said, “it is highly recommended that current infection control (hand hygiene) practices use disinfectants ... as proposed by the World Health Organization.”