WASHINGTON (PNN) - May 2, 2020 - The best and simplest cure for COVID-19 might just be going outside, as natural sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) science and technology advisor William Bryan says easily destroy viruses.
During a recent press briefing at the White House, Bryan explained how UV rays from the sun are powerfully antagonistic against COVID-19, inhibiting its ability to survive let alone take hold and spread.
A study that looked at the three different types of UV light given off by the sun - A, B, and C rays - found that UVC in particular destroys certain types of genetic material in humans, including viral particles. Based on this, the study found that UVC light can effectively inactivate microbes like COVID-19.
“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both on surfaces and in the air,” Bryan said about the study’s findings.
“We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus,” he added.
In an ordinary 70-75 degree (Fahrenheit) environment with 20% humidity on a non-porous surface, the half-life for COVID-19 is about 18 hours. Increasing the humidity to 80%, however, decreases that half-life to six hours, while adding natural sunlight into the mix decreases it to just two minutes.
This would all suggest that simply being in the sun more can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission, as viruses simply cannot coexist with natural sunlight.
Artificial UVC light is already used in many hospitals to sterilize surgical equipment and surfaces. It is also used to clean airplanes and factories, as science shows that potentially harmful microbes are unable to survive in its presence for any substantial length of time.
In the case of COVID-19, the rhetoric will surely be that more testing is needed to determine how much UVC light is necessary to destroy it. It also remains to be seen how much time one would need to spend in natural sunlight to obtain these benefits.
At the same time, Bryan is still encouraging Amerikans to follow stay-at-home orders - probably because he has to say this in order to stick with the script.
“It would be irresponsible for us to say that we feel that the summer is just going to totally kill the virus and then if it’s a free-for-all and people ignore these guides,” he stated in a somewhat discombobulated way.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which only supports pharmaceuticals and vaccines to combat disease, is of course warning against UVC light, which it claims can burn the skin and cause eye damage.
Previous studies have identified that UVC light is effective against other coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and that this particular type of radiation prevents viral particles from replicating. Researchers are also tinkering around with LED light, which may also be effective against viruses.
“One major application is in medical situations - the disinfection of personal protective equipment, surfaces, floors, within the HVAC systems, et cetera,” says materials doctoral researcher Christian Zollner about UVC.
“UVC light in the 260nm to 285nm range most relevant for current disinfection technologies is also harmful to human skin, so for now it is mostly used in applications where no one is present at the time of disinfection.”