Could a new ultraviolet technology fight the spread of coronavirus?

Researchers from Columbia University are studying how far-UVC light could help to prevent infections by killing the virus that is present on certain surfaces in enclosed spaces. Far-UVC light is safe for humans, but lethal for viruses. 

Researchers around the world are following two approaches to find a solution for the current coronavirus pandemic. The first one is the development of an effective and safe vaccine against SARS CoV-2. The second one is preventing infections among the population by analyzing how the virus spreads. According to specialists, the vaccine will be available soon. In order to stop infections, researchers are studying how some specific types of light with a determined wavelength (quite different from the regular available ultraviolet ones) could kill the virus on some surfaces. Thus, reducing the virus transmission mainly in public enclosed spaces.  

Columbia University affirms UVC light could be a powerful and promising tool to reduce COVID-19 transmission in enclosed public places.  

This technology employs specific lamps that emit low and continuous doses of a particular wavelength of far-UVC light. Unlike the conventional ultraviolet light, far-UVC light can kill viruses and bacteria without damaging human skin, eyes or other tissues.  

Research team’s experiments have shown that far-UVC light successfully eliminates two types of seasonal airborne coronavirus responsible for colds and cough.   

David Brenner, lead author and director of the Columbia University Center for Radiological Research states, “far-UVC light can be safely used in occupied public spaces, and it kills pathogens in the air before we can breathe them in.” This technology could limit the spread of viruses in certain public places. Consequently, it could prevent future epidemics and pandemics.  

Far-UVC lamps have another advantage: their use is not limited to SARS CoV-2, the responsible of the current pandemic, but they can also kill other pathogens. As Brenner pointed out, “not only does it have the potential to prevent the global spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, but also future novel viruses, as well as more familiar viruses like influenza and measles.” In fact, as he mentioned, even if researchers develop a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, it will not protect against the next new novel virus.  

Far-UVC lamps will not eradicate SARS CoV-2. However, they can be the perfect ally to avoid transmissions. “Most approaches focus on fighting the virus once it has gotten into the body. However, far-UVC is one of the very few approaches that has the potential to prevent the spread of viruses before they enter the body,” added Brenner.  

Sources: National Geographic Spain, Columbia News, Health It, LedInside  


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