News Brief

Antimicrobials Generally Not Recommended for COVID, CDC Confirms

The CDC updated its guidance, stating that the risk from COVID transmission from surfaces is low risk and that disinfecting is typically not required.

On April 5, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its information on COVID-19 transmission risks, confirming that the pathogen is primarily passed on through airborne respiratory droplets and not through surface contamination. As a result, antimicrobial treatments are not recommended to manage spread of the virus.

According to the report, infection in communities depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the amount of virus infected people expel (wearing a mask helps substantially)
  • the amount deposited onto surfaces (dependent on HVAC)
  • how much the pathogen is impacted by indoor conditions (such as heat and dry air)
  • time between surface contamination and contact
  • transfer from surface to hand to nose, mouth, or eyes
  • how much virus is transmitted

According to the CDC, “Because of the many factors affecting the efficiency of environmental transmission, the relative risk of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considered low compared with direct contact, droplet transmission, or airborne transmission.” (Fomites are large droplets that fall onto surfaces.)

The CDC also confirms that the use of antimicrobials on surfaces is not necessary in most cases. “There is little scientific support for routine use of disinfectants in community settings, whether indoor or outdoor, to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission from fomites,” the report stated.

Most antimicrobials are aquatic toxins and some are persistent in the environment. Their long-term impacts are not well understood, but most are not effective for the control of pathogens in their advertised applications, and their use is questionable when a cleaning protocol with detergent and water is effective.

Though this information is similar to earlier CDC recommendations, it bears repeating: transmission can be reduced by wearing masks, washing hands, cleaning, and maintaining environmental conditions such as proper ventilation.

Published May 3, 2021

Ehrlich, B. (2021, April 21). Antimicrobials Generally Not Recommended for COVID, CDC Confirms. Retrieved from

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June 21, 2021 - 5:59 pm

I believe the reports but many people won't without evidence. Why not offer Citizen Science kits to swab surfaces to prove that viruses don't live on surfaces?