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United States scientists: Sunlight and humidity kill coronavirus the fastest

picture of coronavirus
Ernest Sunday

United state scientists through research have stated that coronavirus dies faster when it is exposed to direct sunlight. Still, the experiment is yet to be made public until an external evaluation is carried out.

According to William Bryan, science and technology adviser to the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday at the White House, he said that US scientists found ultraviolet rays had a powerful impact on the pathogen, giving hope its spread may ease during summer.

"The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight," Bryan said.

"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," he added. "We've seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both are generally less favourable to the virus."

The strong effect of ultraviolet light has been known for many years because its radiation weakens virus genetic makeup and its ability to replicate.

But this virus has also proven to be harmful in temperate regions like Algeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and other countries.

The lethality coronavirus virus in such countries raises a bigger question about the effect of the environmental factor on coronavirus virus.

Bryan suggested it would be "irresponsible" to say the warmer summer months will eradicate the virus. But he said that period would provide an "opportunity to get ahead" of the pandemic.

The research carried out by Bryan has not yet been released for evaluation which makes it hard for independent experts to comment on how robust its methodology was.

According to Al Jazeera, Dr Margaret Harris from the World Health Organization said: "The evidence is not supporting (the sunlight) theory".

"I'm sorry, but we cannot hope that summer is going to have the effect that many people hope it will," said Harris.

Past studies have not found any reliable evidence that high temperature and humidity will help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Bryan at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Maryland shared a slide to summarise the significant findings of the experiment.

"On nonporous surfaces such as stainless steel, the new coronavirus takes 18 hours to lose half its strength in a dark, low-humidity environment," he said.

"In a high-humidity environment, that half-life dropped to six hours, and when the virus was exposed to high humidity and sunlight, the half-life dropped to two minutes," he continued.

Researchers also found a similar impact on coronavirus that was suspended in the air - affecting the coughing or sneezing that often spreads the disease. In a dark room, the virus maintained half its strength for an hour.

But when exposed to sunlight, it lost half its strength in 90 seconds, Bryan said.

Researchers also found that isopropyl alcohol was a more effective disinfectant than bleach, he added.

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