Exploring SARS-CoV-2 hospital surface and air contamination in London

We have just had a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases exploring the extent and magnitude of hospital surface and air contamination with SARS-CoV-2 during the (first!) peak of COVID-19 in London. The bottom line is that we identified pretty extensive surface and air contamination with SARS-CoV-2 RNA but did not culture viable virus. We concluded that this highlights the potential role of contaminated surfaces and air in the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

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The role contaminated surfaces in COVID-19 transmission: a HIS audience-led webinar

The next instalment of the HIS audience-led webinar series is on the role of contaminated surfaces in COVID-19 transmission. I was delighted to be part of the panel for this one:

  • Dr Lena Ciric – Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering, University College London
  • Dr Stephanie Dancer – Consultant Microbiologist, NHS Lanarkshire and Professor of Microbiology, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland
  • Dr Manjula Meda – Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and Infection Control Doctor, Frimley Park Hospital
  • Dr Jon Otter – Infection prevention and control Epidemiologist, Imperial College London
  • Chair: Dr Surabhi Taori, Consultant microbiologist and infection control doctor, Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Here’s the recording:

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Could phages pre-programed for a “surgical strike” against antibiotic resistant bacteria be the ultimate microbiome-sparing surface disinfectant or skin sanitiser?


It is becoming increasingly clear that a happy, healthy microbiome is fundamentally important to human health. Perturbation of the microbiome – especially in the gut – is responsible for C. difficile infection and probably many other diseases directly and indirectly linked to the gut. This has led to a move towards microbiome-sparing approaches to therapy. Faecal microbiota transplantation is one such approach, which happens to be spectacularly effective for treating recurrent CDI and may also be useful for decolonising carriers of resistant Gram-negative bacteria. A related approach is using a ‘competitive exclusion’ to reduce the level of contamination of hospital surface with hospital pathogens by seeding the surfaces with live Bacillus sp. spores. But wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to specifically target antibiotic-resistant bacteria and leave yourself with an antibiotic-susceptible population?

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