David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University in New York, is seen in an undated photo provided by the university’s medical center
“We were thinking, how can we apply what we are doing to the current situation,” Brenner said.
But to test the impact of UVC on the extremely contagious coronavirus, the team had to move its equipment into a highly bio-secure laboratory at Columbia.
Experiments carried out starting “three-four weeks ago,” Brenner said, have already made clear that UVC rays destroy the virus on surfaces within minutes.
The team next plans to test the lamps on viruses suspended in the air, as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
In parallel, tests are being conducted to confirm that these rays are harmless to humans.
For 40 weeks now, the lab has exposed mice to far-UVC rays for “eight hours a day, five days a week, at intensities 20 times higher than we might think of using with humans.”
After testing the rodents’ eyes and skin, “we have found absolutely nothing; the mice are very happy—and very cute as well,” Brenner said.
The experiment is set to continue for 20 more weeks.
The findings cannot be fully validated by the scientific community until all remaining steps have been taken, even if the team has already submitted its preliminary results to the journal Nature.