Sunlight, heat and humidity may have a “powerful” impact on killing the coronavirus within one or two minutes, a Department of Homeland Security official said on Thursday.

Increasing temperatures, humidity and sunlight are detrimental to coronavirus saliva droplets on surfaces and in the air, Homeland Security official William Bryan reported at a White House press conference.

President Trump said of the emerging results, “The whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.”

Trump said, “We want ideas to get rid of this thing, and if heat is good and if sunlight is good, that’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned.”

“This is just another tool in our tool belt,” Bryan said. “Another weapon in the fight that we can add to … . We know that summer-like conditions are going to create an environment where the transmission can be decreased, and that’s an opportunity for us to get ahead.”

These weather factors shorten the virus’s life and danger, he said. The virus dies fastest under direct sunlight, he said.

“Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both on surfaces and in the air,” Bryan said. “We have seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.”

The half-life of the virus in the summer sun would be about two minutes on surfaces, and 1.5 minutes in the air, he said.

The coronavirus survives better inside and in dry environments, said Bryan who noted they started testing the virus in February.

“While there are many unknown links in the COVID-19 transmission chain, we believe these trends can support practical decision-making to lower the risks associated with the virus,” Bryan said.

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Those applications include increasing temperatures and humidity in potentially contaminated indoor spaces, and possibly moving activities outside because sunlight impedes the virus transmission.

They’re also testing disinfectants, including bleach and isopropyl alcohol. Bleach kills the virus in five minutes, and isopropyl alcohol kills the virus in 30 seconds, Bryan said.


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