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New Study suggests sunlight could help fight the spread of COVID-19

Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2021. 6:29 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: A new study suggests that the Ultra Violet (UV) radiation in sunlight could play a key role in slowing down Sars-Cov-2 transmission in the upcoming months, reports Science Daily.

The study, published by Harvard University was published on December 16, 2020, and suggests that during the winter months, when there is less sunlight, the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19 may be more contagious.

Jonathan Proctor, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Data Science Initiative and the Harvard Center for the Environment, co-authored the study along with Peter Huybers, also at Harvard University, Tamma Carleton and Kyle Meng from the University of California Santa Barbara, and Jules Cornetet at France’s École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay.

The research team analyzed the daily COVID-19 and weather data from over 3,000 administrative regions in more than 170 countries. The research findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Understanding the potential seasonality of COVID-19 transmission could help inform our response to the pandemic in the coming months,” Proctor said.”These findings suggest that the incidence of COVID-19 may have a seasonal pattern, spreading faster in the winter when it’s darker than in the summer.”

The team reportedly analyzed the data in multiple ways and “consistently” found that the virus spread less in areas with higher concentrations of UV; however, it remains unclear what mechanism is driving the effect. There are multiple theories such as the possibility of the UV destroying the virus, or another that suggests that sunlight boosts immunity to the virus by stimulating the production of vitamin D.

“There’s still so much that we don’t know about how environmental factors both directly and indirectly, through human behavior, influence the spread of the virus,” Huybers said. “But a better understanding of the environmental influences on COVID-19 could allow for seasonal adjustment of containment policies and may help inform vaccination strategies.


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