Sunlight kills COVID-19 while warmer temperatures and humid weather significantly damage the virus, says the report issued recently by the US Department of Homeland. In a room at 70-75F temperature with 20 per cent humidity, the half-life of the virus is about an hour, the study showed.
The novel virus originated in Wuhan is vulnerable, too, the scientists reported. The pathogen appears to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight, heat and humidity, a US official said on Thursday in a potential sign that the pandemic could become less contagious in summer or warm spring months.
The U.S. government’s study shows the COVID-19 survives best indoors and in dry conditions, and loses potency when temperatures and the humidity rise. Being exposed to sunlight, the virus just dies, said William Bryan, acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
“The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight,” he told a White House news briefing, meaning the well-known power of ultra-violet to kill the pathogens. The researcher also added that isopropyl alcohol was a more effective disinfectant than bleach or traditional alcohol.
18 hours vs. 2 minutes
The good news is on nonporous surfaces like stainless steel, the novel pathogen takes 18 hours to lose half its strength in a dark, low-humidity environment, Bryan said. In addition, the high-humidity environment decreases half-life to six hours.
When the virus was exposed to both high humidity and sunlight, the half-life dropped to two minutes, he said.
In fact, the recent US report repeats the old knowledge about the seasonal flu viruses, which dies from the UV-rays. Nevertheless, the findings could bolster hopes that the COVID-19 infection will mimic the behaviour of other respiratory diseases like flu, which typically are less contagious in warm weather.
Trump urges researchers to be cautious with the interpretation of study results
During Thursday briefing in the White House, President Donald Trump said the findings should be interpreted cautiously to avoid the unhealthy agitation. The US leader also claimed vindication for previously suggesting that the novel pathogen might recede in summer.
“I once mentioned that maybe it does go away with heat and light. And people didn’t like that statement that much,” Trump added at the briefing.
The Oval Office insists states should wait until they have proof that infection rates have dropped steadily for 14 days. Of course, Americans might need to maintain social distancing into early summer, even though some states were showing signs of progress.
Backing Trump’s decision, Vice President Mike Pence said states should allow hospitals to resume elective surgeries, an important source of revenue that some governors have banned in order to keep hospitals clear for COVID-19 patients.
More than 874,000 people in the United States are known to have been infected and over 49,600 have died of COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a Reuters tally.
“Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?” Trump said. “It would be interesting to check that.”