THIS week’s scorching heatwave could help to slash coronavirus transmission rates as strong sunlight can kill the virus in 30 minutes, experts claim.
New research has shown that Thursday’s scorching 34C weather could help stop the spread of the virus.
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The study by virologists who used to work for the US army and FDA indicates that strong sunlight can kill the bug outdoors.
They found that 30 minutes of direct sunlight is enough to kill off the virus by 90 per cent.
This means that if someone who was infected coughed on an outdoor surface, it would decay relatively quickly.
Come mid-September it would take an hour and 17 minutes for the virus to die on surfaces outdoors and nearly three hours in March, according to the study.
During winter the virus could survive for more than five hours in the weak sunlight, although indoors it is likely to last for days.
This varies depending on how cold the city you’re living in is – the further North you go the longer it takes for the virus to die off because the sun is weaker up there.
The same applies globally – the closer you are to the poles the less corona-killing power the sun has.
The study’s authors, Dr Jose-Luis Sagripanti and Dr David Lytle, are even arguing that lockdown measures could actually have harmed people and increased coronavirus’ spread.
“Forcing people to remain indoors may have increased or assured contagion of Covid-19 among same household dwellers and among patients and personnel inside the same hospital or geriatric facilities,” they wrote in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.
“In contrast, healthy people outdoors receiving sunlight could have been exposed to a lower viral dose with more chances for mounting an efficient immune response.
“The viral persistence estimated here for cities at northern latitudes where Covid-19 expanded rapidly during winter 2019-2020 and relatively higher viral inactivation in more southern latitudes receiving high solar radiation during the same period, suggests an environmental role for sunlight in the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Sunlight includes ultraviolet radiation which damages the DNA of viruses. Viruses tend to survive better in cold weather because they have a fatty protective coating which degrades when it is warm.
While the melting of the coating allows the virus to invade the warmth of the body, it dies if the casing disintegrates outside.
Thursday, June 25, is set to be the hottest day of the year so far at 34C in some places.
There have been multiple studies that have confirmed the link between sunlight, high temperatures outdoors and coronavirus.
A new study from the US National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center also found that coronavirus floating in the air decays by 90 per cent in just six minutes of summer sunshine and 19 minutes of winter sunlight.
High temperatures may also play a role.
One study by Harvard University showed that flu survived on a surface for more than 23 hours at 6C in dry weather, but at 32C the samples died within an hour.
During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, doctors noticed that patients who were nursed outdoors appeared to recover better and were four times more likely to recover.
The University of Oxford also recently conducted a review into whether climate conditions were playing a role in the transmission of coronavirus, also found that cold and dry conditions appear to boost the spread.