Does the Coronavirus Die When Exposed to Sunlight as Alleged?

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#COVID19

A tweet shared on August 23 claims that the virus causing COVID-19 dies “almost instantly” when exposed to sunlight.

According to the tweet, the COVID-19 guidelines recommending that people should avoid public gatherings have apparently led to reduced immunity because the majority are not exposed to sunlight, that provides Vitamin D nutrients.

Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom on March 11 declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Among the WHO-recommended measures towards mitigating the spread of COVID-19 included avoiding public gatherings and social distancing. As a result, learning institutions and recreational centres in various countries were ordered to shut down. In the same vein, governments introduced lockdowns, curfews while others introduced laws that criminalized going out in public without face masks.

There have been reports claiming that COVID-19, which has flu-like symptoms, would apparently spread less with the onset of summer and humid climate, in the same way that common flu typically affects majority during cold seasons and gradually declines as weather gets warmer.

US President Donald Trump echoed such sentiments during his speech at the White House Business Session with Governors on February 10.

“Now, the virus (COVID-19) that we’re talking about… you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in.  Typically, that will go away in April,” he said.

According to a report by VOA News, the claims are founded on research on common cold and influenza viruses, which “spread more easily in the winter in part because the air is drier,” while virus particles don’t travel as far in humidity since warmer air naturally holds more moisture.

Verification

There is no evidence that sunlight kills the new coronavirus, causing the COVID-19 disease.

According to the United Nation’s ‘Rumours and Facts on COVID-19’ publication, there are studies suggesting that humidity and temperature are some of the factors that may determine how long the virus may persist on surfaces.

Similarly, WHO cautions that COVID-19 can spread even in a hot and humid climate.

A report on The Harvard Gazette also shares the findings of research on COVID-19, noting that:

“In the case of the common cold, a large segment of the population typically gets sick and develops immunity by spring. With SARS-CoV-2 [also COVID-19], however, enough of the population will likely remain vulnerable, allowing it to spread even if transmission is reduced in warmer months.”

Another report by the BBC Future indicates that “pandemics often don’t follow the same seasonal patterns seen in more normal outbreaks”.

The virus is mainly spread through human interactions, hence adherence to measures such as wearing masks and social distancing stand to prevent its spread despite weather conditions.

Verdict

A tweet claiming that COVID-19 dies when in contact with sunlight is FALSE.

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Linda Ngari