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Can ultraviolet light kill the novel coronavirus?

Updated: Apr 30

According to the latest guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of the novel coronavirus released by the National Health Commission, the virus is sensitive to ultraviolet light and heat, so ultraviolet radiation can effectively eliminate the virus.

According to the guideline, indoor spaces should be disinfected with ultraviolet light with an intensity of over 1.5 watts per cubic meter. A UV lamp can disinfect objects within one meter for at least half an hour.

Longer exposure to radiation is needed when the temperature indoors is below 20 C or above 40 C and relative humidity is over 60 percent.

A room should be ventilated after UV disinfection, and people are suggested to enter the room half an hour later.

Although UV is effective in killing the virus indoors, UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin, as the radiation can cause skin irritation.


A researcher at Columbia University says he may have a "public healthbreakthrough" in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Dr. David Brenner has discovered that a certain kind of light can kill airborne viruses, including some types of coronavirus.

As the director of the Center of Radiological Research at Columbia University, Brenner has been studying ultraviolet light, also known as UV light, as a potentially life-saving weapon against the spread of viruses.

UV light is known for its germicidal killing properties and is used to clean equipment and hospital areas. But it is also dangerous to humans because it can penetrate the skin and cause cancer, as well as cataracts.

However, that's not the case with a narrow band of UV light called far-UVC light.

"It can't get through any of the living cells of our skin," said Brenner. "That's why it's safe for human exposure."

Earlier this year Brenner was testing the ability of far-UVC light to kill airborne viruses in preparation for the upcoming flu season. When the coronavirus outbreak hit, Brenner ran additional tests to determine whether far-UVC light kills those viruses in the air as well.


"We saw we can kill 99% of the virus with a very low dose of far-UVC light," Brenner said.

Brenner's team has already tested two seasonal coronaviruses, and is currently testing the current strain, SARS-CoV-2.

"There's no reason to believe it's going to be different from these results," he said.

Lamps using far-UVC light are currently in production and waiting for Food and Drug Administration approval. Brenner envisions them being used in public places like airports and train stations, as well as in hospitals and schools.

"Right now there is no real approach to trying to reduce the amount of viruses in a room where people are and somebody sneezes and coughs," he said. "If you could actually decontaminate the air around you pretty quickly, that would be a real plus."


The hospital said it was proud to be adding beds everywhere possible and retraining hundreds of employees to care for the influx of patients.

Maimonides had just opened up 10 beds in its cardiac department and it had also retrofitted the cancer center for proven non-coronavirus patients -- nearly tripling the hospital's capacity since the outbreak began.

"I know it's a lot of teamwork," Antoniades told Denise Pelle, senior vice president of ambulatory care, thanking her and her team.

"I just want to acknowledge how great it's been the last couple of weeks to really [staff] these very, very important centers, to not only redeploy ... 450 people ... but also to set up the family communication center. Just making great progress. I think it's time for a virtual clap," he said.




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