Coronavirus defeated: Study shows UVC light destroys 99.9% of virus as lockdown commences

Swathes of the UK have been moved into lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases. The North of England has been hardest hit, with Liverpool City forced to face the tightest restrictions, with pubs and gyms told to completely shut down. Manchester and much of the North East avoided the most extreme lockdown and were placed on “high alert” according to the Government’s new tier system.

Newly-released documents show SAGE scientists urged the Government to implement a short and immediate lockdown in England to stop the virus’ spread in September.

Most areas of England are now on “medium” alert.

Scientists and policy makers have, since earlier this year, warned that there will be no end to lockdown until a coronavirus vaccine is found.

Research is under way to identify weaknesses in COVID-19, and ways in which existing medicines may be effective in treating people ill with it – dexamethasone and remdesivir have been scouted as helping to blunt some of its worst symptoms.

A separate and groundbreaking study carried out by scientists at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre earlier this year offered perhaps the most promising insight into how COVID might be destroyed.

Researchers there used far-ultraviolet C (UVC) light at a wavelength safe for humans and discovered that it killed more than 99.9 percent of coronaviruses found in airborne droplets.

The coronaviruses that were destroyed are similar to SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

Talking to Health Europa at the time, David Brenner, lead author of the study, explained: “Based on our results, continuous airborne disinfection with far-UVC light at the current regulatory limit could greatly reduce the level of airborne virus in indoor environments occupied by people.”

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Currently, viruses can be killed by conventional germicidal UVC light at a wavelength of 254 nm.

This wavelength is, however, extremely unsafe for humans.

Researchers adjusted the wavelength level, reducing it to 222 nm, which cannot penetrate the eye or the outer layer of dead skin, and cannot damage or alter human cells.

This led the researchers to believe that far-UVC light will be safe to use in occupied indoor public places – perhaps a shopping centre or pub – to reduce the risk of transmission and infection of COVID.


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In order to find the efficacy of the method, the researchers used a misting device to aerosolise two common coronaviruses, which were then flowed in front of a far-UVC lamp.

They then tested to see how many were still alive – finding that 99.9 percent of the viruses had been killed by a very low exposure.

Continuous exposure to the far-UVC light, the researchers believe, would kill 90 percent of airborne viruses in around eight minutes, 95 percent in 11 minutes, 99 percent in around 16 minutes, and 99.9 percent in 25 minutes.

Dr Brenner said: “Far-UVC light doesn’t discriminate between coronavirus types, so we expected that it would kill SARS-CoV-2 in just the same way.

“Since SARS-CoV-2 is largely spread via droplets and aerosols that are coughed and sneezed into the air it’s important to have a tool that can safely inactivate the virus while it’s in the air, particularly while people are around.

“Because it’s safe to use in occupied spaces like hospitals, buses, planes, trains, train stations, schools, restaurants, offices, theatres, gyms, and anywhere that people gather indoors, far-UVC light could be used in combination with other measures, like wearing face masks and washing hands, to limit the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses.”

There has not yet been any major announcement of indoor venues using far-UVC light to eliminate the virus.

In China, however, earlier this year, small self-driving robots fitted with UVC strip lights were introduced in hospitals to kill microbes and other virus residue.

The machines take around 20 minutes to fully clean a room, with humans advised to stay outside as the strength of the wavelength of UVC is still too strong.

In March, Professor Hans Jørn Kolmos, a professor of clinical microbiology, at the University of Southern Denmark, which helped develop the robot, told of how the robots could be utilised in the scenario of a pandemic.

He explained to the BBC: “There are a lot of problematic organisms that give rise to infections.

“If you apply a proper dose of ultraviolet light in a proper period of time, then you can be pretty sure that you get rid of your organism.

“This type of disinfection can also be applied to epidemic situations, like the one we experience right now, with coronavirus disease.”

The robots come in at a hefty price, however – costing $67,000 (£53,370) each.

Chief executive of UVD Robots, Per Juul Nielsen said: “Coronavirus is very similar to other viruses like Mers and Sars. And we know that they are being killed by UV-C light.”

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