Sunlight and humidity kill coronavirus fastest, US scientists say

A new visualisation of the Covid-19 virus
New visualisation of the Covid-19 virus / Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, there have been myths revolving around the idea of eliminating the virus. It has been speculated that the virus dies by drinking hot water, steam, and eating garlic, and bananas can kill the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) denied all these, saying that these are myths. Among these, the exposure to sunlight and UV rays was also considered a possible way to kill coronavirus.

William Bryan, science and technology adviser to the Department of Homeland Security said,

“The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight.”

The senior US officials in White House announced that the coronavirus might decline in summers because sunlight destroys the virus. Bryan told reporters that,

“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air.”

Bryan also said that temperature and humidity make the environment less favorable for the virus to grow and stay for longer durations. President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, also pointed out the people who didn’t believe in his prior statement regarding the virus may die with heat and light in summers.

The research has yet been kept confidential and is not released to the public. There are concerns regarding the methodology used to verify and test the hypothesis.

However, coronavirus has proven lethal in places where the weather is usually warm such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, raising broader questions about the impact of environmental factors.

Dr. Margaret Harris from the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke to Al Jazeera,

“The evidence is not supporting [the sunlight] theory.”

Harris also added,

“I’m sorry, but we cannot hope that summer is going to have the effect that many people hope it will.”

On the other hand, President Trump suggested inserting light and disinfectants through injecting these in the infected patients. He said,

“Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning? It would be interesting to check that.”

Several questions are circulating regarding the statements by Bryan and President Trump. The ethical issues involved in injecting disinfectant or using UV light without testing the effectiveness of both is of concern. Although UV light is considered to have a sterilizing effect, will it be able to act effectively in coronavirus patients, with all age groups and health conditions? The accurate wavelength, intensity, and duration of exposure to UV light are of question.

Bryan presented the findings in the slideshow and postulated that the half-life (time consumed for the virus to reduce in half of the total amount) of coronavirus was almost a day at a temperature of 21-25° Celcius. But after exposure to sunlight, the half-life was reduced to six hours.

Apart from the natural immune system of the body, the researchers in the US White House are working to create an environment that naturally decreases the spread of the virus, to lift strict guidelines of social distancing. Bryan also believes that the summer season doesn’t necessarily mean the virus will eradicate from the world. Instead, there are chances that the next winter and flu season may escalate the spread.

Are you practicing social distancing, and what are the measures you are taking to stay safe? How are you spending time in self-quarantine with your family? Please share with us in the comments section below.


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