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High-tech light protects Olympic athletes from coronavirus
By:Wu Qiong   |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2021-08-16 10:45

The China Team for the Tokyo Olympics have all arrived home safely. So far, all the 777 team members got no COVID-19 infections, reaching their target of zero-infection. Behind the success is a technology resulting from international cooperation.

Besides the regular anti-epidemic measures, the China Team in Tokyo carried with them a sanitizing device called Lumenizer to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

Effective at destroying pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, mold and spores in everyday spaces safely while people are present, Lumenizer is able to inactivate 99.9% of viruses in as little as 3 seconds. Jointly developed by Columbia University, Fudan University, the Shanghai Institute of Major Infectious Diseases and Biosafety, and the Shanghai-based company Lumenlabs, it emits light at a wavelength of 222 nanometers (nm) to deactivate the coronavirus while being safe to exposed human beings.

In 2018, David Brenner at Columbia University found that the 222nm far-UVC light is efficient at killing viruses but cannot damage humans, with this research later published in “Nature” (Far-UVC light: A new tool to control the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases). That lay the scientific foundation for Lumenizer.

“Good principles and technology should be developed into products to be applied in people’s lives,” said Dr. Wu Fan, deputy dean of Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University, and dean of the Shanghai Institute of Major Infectious Diseases and Biosafety. According to her, since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, the potential of the technology in public health has been transferred into reality.

Apart from protecting Olympic athletes, the sanitizing device is also being utilized in hospitals in China’s flood-hit Zhengzhou, Henan Province, to create a zero-virus environment for medical staff. According to Dr. Wu, development of Lumenizer for civil use is already on the way to benefitting society more widely.

However, each product has a limited scope of application scenarios. As light goes straight, in places where Lumenizer cannot reach, for example, if the back of an object is not illuminated, that part cannot be disinfected.