The international day of light, celebrated on 16 May every year should remind all of us of the important contributions of light in science, culture, art, education, medicine, sustainable development, and communications.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía
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Let's explore this year the role that light-based technologies could potentially play in the fight against COVID-19.
The spread of COVID has encouraged scientists to make use of antimicrobial strategies against the causative agent SARS-COV-2. A report by Sabino and colleagues examines the potential of light-based technologies to prevent COVID infection and control its spread by direct viral inactivation. It also addresses how these technologies can be helpful in the treatment of COVID-19 by modulating the host immune system.
Since 1885, Duclaux made experiments with various microbial species and stated that sunlight is the best, cheapest, and most universally applicable microbicidal agent. Sabino and colleagues highlight that the International Ultraviolet Association recently published a factsheet that details the efficacy of UV on SARS-CoV-2. In the factsheet, the requirements for the safety of the UV-C disinfection devices are also mentioned. There is strong evidence that UV-C light is helpful to inactive Coronaviruses present in the air, liquids, and other surfaces.
On the other hand, a study by Fischer and colleagues revealed that UV-C light can inactivate more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles that remain on the filtering material of N95 masks and stainless steel surface. However, it is important to highlight that UV-C application is only recommended for non-living objects, because of its potential effects on tissue damage.
Photoantimicrobials and Photodynamic Therapy have been historically utilized for treatment against localized microbial infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Hence, Sabino and colleagues mention the possibility that photosensitized oxidation may neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and therefore may help control the pandemic. However, they mention that more studies are required to test this possibility.
Antimicrobial Blue Light has also been used to treat various infectious diseases. However, experimentation is necessary to conclude whether this light-based technology may be useful for preventing and controlling COVID. Photobiomodulation Therapy is a technique in which red or near-infrared light is used for medical purposes such as curing wounds and injuries, healing pain and inflammation, or even regenerating damaged tissue. Since 1900, this technology has been used for treating acute lung injury as well as pulmonary inflammation, since it can reduce inflammation preserving lung function. However, experimentation is required to test for the efficacy of photobiomodulation on COVID patients.
Finally, the study by Sabino and colleagues, mentions Ultrafast Laser Radiation as an option to fight COVID-19 due to its antimicrobial effects. On this worldwide celebrated day, it becomes interesting to analyze the fact that light-based technologies have special characteristics that could be used to fight the pandemic, reducing transmission by air, water, and surfaces and controlling morbidity and mortality with their therapeutic uses. However further studies are needed to understand the advantages and disadvantages of these technologies for controlling the current pandemic.