Columbia researchers are developing new UV technology to slow the spread

Since the coronavirus outbreak hit US shores, there has been remarkable innovation in the private sector to find novel solutions to a novel problem.

Case in point, a researcher at Columbia University announced this week that his team has developed “gaming-changing” UV technology that shows promising signs that it be used to kill coronavirus in the air and on surfaces.

Sanitation breakthrough

COVID-19’s high transmission rate is largely the rationale behind closing down “non-essential’ businesses and keeping people in their homes.

David Brenner, radiation biophysics professor and director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research, said that this new technology “has the potential to be a ‘game-changer.'” According to reports, the technology has been proven to work against some types of coronaviruses and is currently being tested against SARS-CoV-2, the novel virus that causes COVID-19.

While much research is dedicated to discovering efficacious treatments, vaccines, or even a cure for COVID-19, Brenner said that his team took a “fundamentally different tactic.”

Most approaches focus on fighting the virus once it has gotten into the body,” he explained. “Far-UVC is one of the very few approaches that have the potential to prevent the spread of viruses before they enter the body.”

Columbia News reported that Brenner’s UV technology “uses lamps that emit continuous, low doses of a particular wavelength of ultraviolent light, known as far-UVC, which can kill viruses and bacteria without harming human skin, eyes and other tissues, as is the problem with conventional UV light.”

Brenner touted the system as a “low-cost and safe” way to combat the droplet and airborne transmission of the virus. He also floated the system as a way to combat other viruses such as influenza and measles.

Is it workable?

As with many breakthroughs recently made in the fight against COVID-19, this technology will likely not be available for widespread use for at least several months.

Brenner told Columbia News that the technology can potentially be “easily retrofitted” into light fixtures and used in all manner of public places, including hospitals, airports, and schools.

However, he also admitted that the process of procuring FDA and EPA approval as well as ramping up large-scale production would likely stall the implementation of the technology for several months.

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services found that environmental factors such as heat, light, and humidity slash the half-life of the virus down to minutes, another important breakthrough in the fight to slow the spread of the virus.

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