How Ultraviolet Light Could Help Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus

Though ultraviolet light cannot be used in or on the human body to cure Covid-19, it is an effective tool that has been in use for decades in hospitals and operating rooms to sterilize surfaces. Technological breakthroughs in UV light could become a key tool used to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

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How Ultraviolet Light Could Help Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus

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Coronavirus has devastated the global
economy and killed more than270,000 people as
it spread exponentially.As conversations shift towards reopening
the country and gettingpeople back to work, proper sanitation
in high traffic and publicspaces will be key to
getting back to normal.In places like China, r obots and
drones are being used to spraydisinfectant in public spaces.Airlines and companies like Amazon have
been using fogging as asanitation technique to keep
their facilities clean.But there is another option.UV light is an effective disinfectant
that has been used for decadesin hospitals and operating rooms.The global UV disinfection equipment market
was valued at one $ 1.1billion in 2018 and is projected
to reach $3.4 billion by2026. President Trump recently brought
up using ultraviolet light tofight the coronavirus.Supposing we hit somebody with
a tremendous, whether it'sultraviolet or just
very powerful light.And I think you said that has
n't been checked but you're going totest it. And then I said, supposing
you brought the light inside thebody, which you can do either through
the skin or in some other way.Though powerful UV light cannot be used
on the human body, i t canhelp prevent the spread
of the virus.And technological breakthroughs could see UV
light become a key piecein returning to normal in a world
with a looming Covid-1 9 threat.Ultraviolet light was discovered more
than 200 years ago.It was first used for disinfecting
surfaces in 1877, for waterin 1910 and for air in 1935.It was discovered because
of its antimicrobial,antibacterial properties.And actually in health care became
pretty widely adopted in an effortto try to disinfect the air and
ensure that people who were in thatenvironment were not getting
exposed to tuberculosis.UVC has been known for more than
100 years now to be really,really good at killing microbes,
bacteria and viruses both.Ultraviolet light is part of
the electromagnetic spectrum, whichincludes things like gamma rays,
x-rays, infrared light, microwaves,visible light and radio waves.Ultraviolet light is grouped into
three categories based on thelight's wavelength. There's ultraviolet
A, ultraviolet B andultraviolet C. The sun produces all
three types of UV radiation, butwe only experience A and
B on Earth's surface.UVC does not penetrate the clouds, so
it doesn't hit us here onEarth. UVA and UVB light do.That's why people go outside and
they can get sunburns and thingslike that. So everybody's familiar
with the power of ultravioletlight. Within the spectrum
of ultraviolet light,UVC, which sits at 200 to
280 nanometers, is in thegermicidal disinfecting range.What we experience as sunlight here
on earth is mainly UVAand a little bit of UVB.And they are actually much less
efficient at killing microbes thanUVC. UVC is by far the
more efficient way of killing microbes.We know that ultraviolet light
is effective against many differentkinds of viruses, many types of
bacteria and even some very hardybacteria that can produce spores
with thick coatings on them.Ultraviolet light can be effective
against those and effectiveagainst fungus also.UVC light can be quite dangerous.It can burn exposed skin
and damage your retina.The World Health Organization issued guidance
not to use UV lamps tosterilize hands or other
parts of the skin.The issue with UVC, though, is
that it's a health hazard.So you can really only use
it when people are not around.UVC light interferes with and destroys
the nucleic acids, the DNAor RNA, of bacteria,
viruses and other microbes.What it does is it causes chemical
bonds that aren't supposed to bethere to form within the
genes of the microbe.And those new chemical bonds
prevent the microbe from replicating.And because the microbe can't
replicate any longer, it effectivelykills it off. It breaks open
the protein shell of a pathogen.So imagine a pathogen and everybody's
seen a cell under a microscope.Imagine it like an egg
and you're cracking an egg.And once you've cracked the egg, you
can't put the egg back together.That's what we're doing o
n a microscopic level.Ultraviolet light can kill microbes
in many different environments.It has been used for several
decades to disinfect drinking water,wastewater, air, pharmaceutical products
and services against thewhole suite of human pathogens.Despite all of its uses, there are
a few things that limit itseffectiveness. If there is organic
material, so there's essentiallydirt on a surface, the dirt impacts
how much of that ultraviolet Clight is able to
get to the microbes.And because of that, it works best
if the surfaces are cleaned firstand then the surfaces are
exposed to the UVC light.Another important point is that if you
try to disinfect a room withUVC Light and you have,
let's say a telephone sittingon a bedside table, the area under
that telephone is not going to beeffectively decontaminated.UVC light has been used to
combat other coronaviruses such as MERSand SARS, and it
was used against Ebola.It's been proven effective and is
expected to also work against theSARS-CoV-2 virus that
causes Covid-19.Because we know it's effective
against the coronavirus family andthere's structural similarities between all
of the viruses in thecoronavirus family.Everybody expects that ultraviolet C
light will be very effectiveagainst the SARS-CoV-2 virus.UVC light has been increasingly used
in health care environments toprevent infections in hospitals.As we started to see
more drug resistant bacteriaand drug resistant fungus, there is
really a growing interest in theuse of ultraviolet C light to
help disinfect our health careenvironments. Xenex is one company that
built a UVC robot tosanitize hospital rooms.The company says its LightStrike
robot is disinfecting somewhere inthe world e very 4.7 seconds.Just in the United States, two million
people a year go to thehospital and get an infection
from going to the hospital.And then 100,000 of those two
million die each year from thoseinfections. In the hospitals that
have used our robots, they'redropping their infection rates 50,
70, even 100 percent.That's really what we focus on, is
how do we reduce the infectionrates and make it the hospitals a
safer place for patients to go.UV light is efficient as a
disinfectant tool and it just needselectricity to work. As long as they
have the robot and a box ofbulbs, they can take energy,
electricity and convert it intodisinfection. It's faster and less
labor intensive than cleaning byhand. It also reduces the need
to clean with powerful chemicals.So you could just use more bland
soaps for the cleaning and thenrely on UVC for
a chemical free disinfection.It's hard to get to all the surfaces
in a 15 or 20 minute roomturnaround time. The second thing is,
is the chemicals end up beingvery corrosive on the surfaces.You need to leave surfaces visibly
wet for several minutes tokill viruses. They're only to be
used on hard, non-porous surfacesand they're also only to be
used in well ventilated areas.Cleaning staff can
also missed areas.There was a number of studies that
came out in the early 2000s showingthat housekeepers, and they
do an incredible job.They would miss about half
of the high touch surfaces.One other thing that's worth
adding is there's been recentpublications that have demonstrated that
in Italy, the hospitalsactually became the
agents of infection.So the hospitals were so pathogenic
that they were passing thepathogen from patient to patient.Ultraviolet light could be a powerful
tool in the fight againstCovid-19. And in some instances,
it's already being used.China is disinfecting entire buses with
UV light and banks are usingUVC on currency.The Pittsburgh International Airport became
the first airport in theU.S. to deploy autonomous cleaning
robots equipped with ultravioletlights for disinfection.Dimer has a device designed
specifically to disinfect planes calledthe Germfalcon.It's the size of a drink cart
and has articulating arms that extendover the plane's seats.Using ultraviolet C lights like
they use in hospitals.You push it up and down the
aisle, the wing hovers over the seatbacktops and you can disinfect
the whole plane really quickly.Dimer claims it can kill 99 percent
of germs in three minutes and thatit takes 30 to 45 minutes to
clean an entire wide body airplane.We're primarily focused on
viruses like Influenza, Norovirus,Ebola. And right now
we're dealing with coronavirus.UVD Robots makes the only
fully autonomous UVC disinfection roboton the market. After mapping out
the environment, it moves aroundautonomously guided by Lidar.The company claims it can kill
99.9 percent of bacteria and virusesin 10 to 15 minutes, and its
robots are dispatched in over 50countries around the world.There are some newer products that
we are already seeing in usein some areas outside the United
States, where it's essentially aRoomba-like device with ultraviolet
C bulbs on it.It's able to autonomously navigate into
a room and treat thatroom. Texas based Xenex has
a UV robot called LightStrike.It delivers germicidal UV from
200 to 3 15 nanometers,killing bacteria and viruses
in five minutes.And the company recently verified that
its robot is effective againstSARS-CoV-2. It puts out
the entire spectrum ofgermicidal light. And by doing
that, different germs, differentpathogens are more vulnerable to
different wavelengths of light.Because it's broad spectrum, no
matter where they're vulnerable, aLightStrike robot will get them.Xenex is sending its robots to China
and Italy, as well as using themin Houston. The company says it
has thousands of robots already inoperation and is ramping up U.S.production. Before the Covid crisis, w
e already had over 500hospitals with thousands of
robots around the world.Covid hit and all of
our international partners really startedcalling us right away.And we started shipping 50 to
Italy and 30 to Japan, Singapore.All of these countries were really
hard hit by Covid infectionsbefore the United
States experienced it.Since then and as the cases have
grown in the United States, both ourexisting customers and new customers have
come to us to use this.Hospitals need it and they've
been requesting it like unbelievableamounts. The CDC and the
International Ultraviolet Association arelooking at how UVC could be
used to disinfect PPE at hospitals,extending the life
of disposable masks.Xenex is the first manufacturer to verify
with 3M that its masks aresafe after being disinfected
with its LightStrike robot.3M had issued guidance against using
other UV devices on the masks.We sent them our device.They tested our device. They said
we didn't cause material damage.They passed the use of
Xenex for n95 masks.There are even consumer products on
the market like UVC water bottles,small light wands and
disinfectors for phones.But one of the biggest challenges we
face is how to keep public, hightraffic areas clean.As we get back to work in the
next few months and we'll be inrooms much closer to each
other than we were before.There's a concern again about transmission
of viruses from one personto another. UV robots are effective, but
they can only be used in theabsence of people.There is, however, promising potential
for a new breakthrough inultraviolet tech that could help.Researchers are experimenting with a
shorter wavelength type of UVC,which could be safe for human
exposure but still effective againstmicrobes. This is light with
a wavelength of 222nanometers. And it's been shown to
be not only effective againstmicrobes, but also it's been shown,
I think fairly convincingly, tobe safe to even have people
potentially in that environment wherethat light is being used.What we've been working on is
a type of UVC light whichnot only will kill viruses, but
is safe for human exposure.This technology was initially developed to
help mitigate the spread ofinfluenza, but it's expected to
be effective against SARS-CoV-2.So our first studies were
with these seasonal coronaviruses.And in fact, the far-UVC light
was very efficient at killing them.And our next step, which is actually
what's been going on at themoment, is to look
at these SARS-2 virus.The virus that's actually
causing the current crisis.There's no reason to think that
they will respond any differentlyfrom any other coronavirus.So we've every expectation
UVC light will killthe current coronavirus.Far-UVC lights are in the process of
being tested on mice and initialsafety results are promising.We use what are
called hairless mice.These mice have been sitting in the
UVC light for nearly a year now.We give them skin tests
every couple of weeks.We give them eye exams
every couple of weeks.And absolutely nothing,
they're perfectly fine.Far- UVC lights could be permanent
fixtures in public places likeoffices and airports to prevent the
spread of viruses and othermicrobes. The sorts of public spaces w
e have in mind are hospitals,subways and trains and
planes and buses,restaurants, for example,
food stores.Anywhere where people are going to
be clustered in the same room.The main roadblock at the
moment is producing the lamps.The problem is how do you scale it
up right now to the level where youmake it a practical technology?There are a couple of companies at
the moment really ramping up toproduce large numbers
of these lamps.But I think it will be the
autumn before the lamps are produced inreally large numbers.And the sorts of numbers we're
talking about are hundreds of millions.Costs could be high at first
until large scale manufacturing helpsbring it down. Maybe we'll be in
time for the famous bubble of theCovid-19 crisis if
it really happens.And we'll certainly be in time for
the next In fluenza epidemic nextyear. And we'll certainly be in
time for the next pandemic wheneverit should occur.We've seen a huge amount of
interest from places like hotels, fromgymnasiums, from schools,
from office buildings.People have wanted
to disinfect ambulances.We've seen a lot of
interest from airports and airlines.And not to mention old age
homes, nursing homes, skilled nursingfacilities. Covid has really brought
the importance of disinfectionhome to almost everybody
all over the world.

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