Is the Coronavirus Killed by Ultraviolet light?

The new Wuhan coronavirus has infected thousands with a death rate of between 2% to 3%. Very few people outside have China have contracted the virus. However, that may change as new cases outside of China are reported on a daily basis.

Viruses are not alive the way a plant or an animal is alive.  They do not consume, excrete waste product, grow, or react to their environment.  They do however reproduce themselves, but only in a host cell.  The virus is dormant outside the host cell and can live on inanimate articles up to 24 hours. 

A specific type of virus will only reproduce in a specific type of host cell.  In other words a rose plant can’t get tobacco mosaic virus.  There are viruses that affect just about every type of organism. 

Viruses are the cause of the flu, ebola, HIV, rabies, herpes, the common cold, measles, chicken pox, polio, and of course the Wuhan coronavirus. Viruses are dangerous because they mutate.  The mutation means that previous vaccines are useless against the new strain.  It also means the new strain can be far more devastating in the damage it cause.  The flu of 1917 started out as a flu with mild symptoms, mutated, and killed nearly 50 million people worldwide in a relatively short period of time. 

Ultraviolet light used in water purifiers and air filters does deactivate or kill viruses.  Ultraviolet light represents the frequency of light between 200 nanometers (nm) and 400 nm.  You can’t see it with the naked eye.  The most effective frequency for killing viruses and bacteria is between 254 nm and 265 nm.   

The viruses are deactivated because the light causes genetic damage.  The virus can no longer reproduce itself.  Ultraviolet lights used in home filters need to be wiped off every six months.  Some systems are closed and signal that the bulb needs to be changed.  They use about the same amount of energy as a 40 watt incandescent bulb. 

Should you use an air filter that uses ultraviolet light? That depends on how often you’re exposed to people who may be sick, how much the air in your home is circulated, and other factors.   Many modern homes are virtually sealed air systems in the winter when the heat is on or during the summer with air conditioning.  This closed system doesn’t allow the viruses to dissipate but keeps them trapped within your home. 

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