As researchers are keen to find successful treatments and an eventual cure for COVID-19, everyone is getting a real-time glimpse into the messiness of scientific discovery. We’re all clueless about what is happening now. At this juncture, we need to look up for alternate solution.

The Sun- a crusader against microbes

Since time memorial it has been repeatedly proved that the sunrays in human life were beneficial in treating various diseases. There has been number of research in the same field during the past few decades. Infectious diseases have taken importance; hence doctors and scientists sought treatments that had antimicrobial properties. One of the earliest sources of hope was sunlight. Over a period of human evolution, it has been observed that sunlight destroyed bacteria.

John Tyndall tried a different circumstance with respect to Downes and Blunt experiment. His findings were similar to Downes and Blunt: Flasks exposed to strong sunlight remained free of bacteria. Later when it was moved to a warm room, they developed bacteria. The phenomena resulted in him deciding that sunlight is effective in controlling the growth of bacteria than killing it. However, these experiments needed in-depth study.

Treatment of Tuberculosis on skin

Finsen Lamp

Finsen Lamp

A scientist named Finsen with his serious illness and disability led him to get deeply involved with these researches which prompted his investigations into the medicinal qualities of sunlight. Further he decided to undertake formal studies of both sunlight and artificial light, which resulted in invention of infra-red light.

The UV light has been tested in curing many diseases smallpox, typhoid, and anthrax. Niels Mogensen, suffered from lupus vulgaris, a skin condition that results in disfiguring lesions on the neck and face, caused by the same bacterium responsible for tuberculosis in the lungs. In a few days of treatment with artificial light, he had shown huge improvement. Finsen developed an electric carbon arc light for uniform transmission of UV rays. Subsequently number of experiments had started on light therapy.

The new direction of UV lights

The use of infrared light eventually declined, due to effective alternate treatment. Post retirement of Finsen lamps, research on Ultra violet rays took off in a new direction: killing germs in the environment before they had a chance to infect anyone.

In the 1930s, similar condition of Covid-19 was faced. A scientist named William, used UV rays to get rid of the germs in the air. UV ventilation systems were soon being installed in schools with the hope of controlling the spread of tuberculosis and measles. Several years later studies started again, however they were unable to reproduce Williams’s success.

During 1970s, Riley confirmed that aerosolized TB could be controlled through UV ventilation with other atmospheric parameters. In the 1980s, the United States saw a rise in tuberculosis, some strains of which were resistant to antibiotics, and interest in Riley’s and William’s research was renewed.

Ultra violet rays were also found effective in killing germs in the drinking water. During the research in 1998 it was shown that UV was effective at killing chlorine-resistant protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium. There are also pouches available in the market that has tiny UV lights for sterilizing your keys and cellphone.

The germicidal benefits of both sunlight and artificial UV light are back again in the spotlight as potential weapons against the coronavirus. Much is still awaited and unknown about the virus that causes COVID-19. The surface of Black fungus post COVID-19 treatment is also a cause for concern to the human life. In this scenario, sunlight is considered as a potential weapon against any kind of fungus. Therefore, Sun is one of the vital sources of energy and power, so the benefits of sunlight can be explored and hence much research in this line maybe initiated for curing diseases like coronavirus and Black fungus.

About the author

Preethi S

I'm Preethi, a second-year student studying BME at PSG tech, who is a passionate learner and an enthusiastic explorer with a love for travelling. I’m more of doer than a thinker.