Mailbox: Does extreme temperature kill coronavirus?

Do either cooking or refrigeration incapacitate the virus? Chris Smith answers...
21 April 2020

Interview with 

Chris Smith, The Naked Scientists


A Close up of a lit gas burner cooker


Listener Ian asked: "Does extreme temperature incapacitate this virus? Does cooking work? What about a fridge, eg if I were to put it on a cold setting for a few days?" Chris Smith helped him out with an answer...

Chris - High temperatures will definitely deactivate coronavirus particles, and to be on the safe side that means more than about sixty degrees centigrade; whether that’s in the oven, in the dishwasher, or when you put fabrics into the washing machine. The fridge and extremely low temperatures are a quite different story. We routinely store viruses in very cold temperatures to preserve them for the long term for study and research and so on. And while it’s certainly true that freezing and thawing and refreezing viruses will deactivate some particles, many will remain intact and fully infectious. In the fridge, many of the conditions which lead to the natural deactivation of virus particles are not present: it’s cool, there’s no bright sunlight, and this means the particles remain intact and therefore fully infectious for longer. So high temperatures will deactivate viruses; low temperatures won’t necessarily deactivate viruses.


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