Study reveals that sports equipment presents a "low risk" in spreading Covid-19

The risk of transferring coronavirus through sports equipment is much lower than originally suggested, according to a study by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Jack Seddon's picture
Thu, 11 Feb 2021

Study reveals that sports equipment presents a "low risk" in spreading Covid-19

Golf has received a boost after a study revealed that the risk of spreading coronavirus through sports equipment is "lower than once thought".

With golf courses still shut during the third national lockdown, many golfers argued the case that they couldn't understand why it was deemed okay to walk along a golf course for exercise, but carrying your own golf clubs was too much of a risk.

That argument is only strengthening now after a study conducted by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine concluded that it is "unlikely" that sports balls and accessories are a major cause for transmission.

The researchers found that "close contact" between players was the more influential factor in spreadign the virus, as there was "rapid decay" of viral particles across many different types of sports equipment which made it difficult to transfer the Covid virus.

James Calder, from Imperial College and Fortius Clinic, said: "The findings in this study are important not only for elite athletes, but also for community sports and our schools.

"It shows that the risk of transmission when sharing sports equipment is lower than was once thought and it highlights the importance of promoting other infection control measures in sports, whilst urging equipment manufacturers to identify surfaces that may be less likely to retain viable virus."

During the study, a low dose and high dose of coronavirs was applied to a golf ball, a cricket glove, a football, a piece of gym pit foam, a rugby ball, a tennis ball, a horse saddle, both a white and red cricket ball and a piece of stainless steel as a control material.

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Although many of the items picked up both dosages of the virus, the study found that the "mean recovery of the virus fell across all materials to 0.74% at one minute, 0.39% at 15 minutes and 0.003% at 90 minutes".

Dr Emily Adams, a senior lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said: "Anything that is slightly absorbent like a tennis ball or some of the leathery cricket balls, it's very difficult to transfer any live virus off those. So we think that transmission from sports equipment is probably very low in these cases.

"Basically in many sports, like tennis, really the public health intervention should be focused on players and how players interact before a game, during a game and after a game and in transport rather than the sports equipment itself."

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