'Revolutionary' study into use of ultraviolet light to kill Covid-19 in public places gains new funding

A trial of using a new type of ultraviolet light to kill airborne viruses such as Covid-19 in public places has gained new funding from the UK government.

Artists impressions of how Far UVC could be implemented in different situations. Images courtesy of Columbia University Center for Radiological Research.

The project, led by St Andrews University along with Dundee University and NHS Tayside, has been awarded £296,000 from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Research has already found that a type of ultraviolet light known as Far-UVC could be safely used to disinfect air in public places.

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Now a £160,000 grant will allow researchers to measure skin safety in clinical trials at Ninewells hospital in Dundee.

Artists impressions of how Far UVC could be implemented in different situations. Images courtesy of Columbia University Center for Radiological Research.

A second grant of £136,000 will allow virologists from the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex at St Andrews University to run studies at Leeds University to measure how effective the light is at killing viruses including Covid-19 and flu.

Lord Bethell, Health Minister at the UK Department of Health and Social Care, said: “I am delighted that we are funding this trailblazing study by the University of St Andrews.

“This could give us a brand new weapon in our fight against Covid-19, harnessing the unique power of ultraviolet light to help eliminate the risk posed by this dreadful virus.”

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Ultraviolet light has already been well-established as a method for killing viruses on surfaces and in air, but current forms of the light can cause negative effects on humans including skin reddening and eye damage.

It is hoped that Far-UVC does not produce these effects.

Dr Ewan Eadie of Ninewells hospital said: “Far-UVC light has the potential to revolutionise the fight against airborne transmission of not just SARS-CoV-2 and its mutant variants, but all airborne viruses including seasonal influenza.

" However, there are a lack of human safety data and an urgent need for more safety information on this deployed technology, which our clinical trial will address.”

Dr Kenneth Wood, of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews, said: “We know that Far-UVC light efficiently destroys viruses and bacteria in laboratory experiments. Scaling this up to room-sized environments in the Leeds facility will allow real-world testing of this new and very promising technology.”

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