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Background

A paper has found that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) can remain infective for at least six weeks on ordinary household surfaces. You can see the free full text, or a summary for busy clinicians.

Elsewhere, Brian Krause has added:

"They tested their samples for (up to) 6 weeks. At the time of the 6th week they still found infectious virus. They did not test samples beyond 6 weeks, so they can't say anything about infection past that time."

My question

So, at six weeks, they saw that the virus was still infective. Why might they have ended the study right away instead of continuing it for a few more months?

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  • $\begingroup$ I removed the postscript as it had nothing to do with the question. If you pose a question it will stand alone and people will answer it or ignore it as and in the way they think fit. If they have the reputation and think the question is subjective in a way that does not fit with SE Biology they will vote to close regardless. I would vote to close this question as of little general interest, but am happy to leave it to die of neglect. $\endgroup$ – David Dec 30 '18 at 17:57
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They ran out of samples

Their test is destructive, they can't test the same sample twice. They planned out a number of samples to test for each time period and tested them. At the end of six weeks, they were done.

It doesn't really matter

The point of the paper is that HCV is infectious long-term on surfaces when not cleaned properly, indicating there is a risk of fomite transmission long after an infected patient leaves the area.

They also show that if surfaces are cleaned, the virus is killed effectively. The authors are not advocating to quarantine a hospital room until any residual HCV dies from air exposure, they are advocating being sure to appropriately clean hospital surfaces to prevent potential disease.

It isn't typical (in fact, it is impossible) for a single scientific study to answer all open questions in one shot. If someone wants to put an upper bound on the duration that HCV remains infectious in the world they can do a new study with longer time points.

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