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UVC Light Bronchoscope for Covid-19

Fight Covid-19 with Bronchoscope-like tube emitting Ultraviolet-C light
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Could we help people Covid-19 Coronavirus infections by inserting a flexible Bronchoscope-like device emitting far Ultraviolet-C light? This tube would light up bronchial passages in their lungs, as well as areas in their mouth, throat and trachea colonised by the viral infection. Killing viral particles, as well as cells infected by the virus, in the throat, tonsils and trachea would lower the viral load the immune system must fight. It would also help prevent pneumonia from secondary bacterial infections.

Continuous low doses of far Ultraviolet-C (far- UVC) light are safe to human tissue, but harmful to viruses. This light uses a wavelength of about 222 nanometers (nm), and is different from the more harmful UV-A and UV-B light. Far-UVC is proven to inactivate the H1N1 virus (see the first link below for more information).

This device could work in conjunction with ventilators. The virus does poorly in hot, humid, sunlit environments. Ventilator intake air is typically filtered, humidified, and heated. This device would add a sunlight-like sterilization feature to the ventilation process. Perhaps the brochoscope- like device can also use a gentle suction on exhalation to suction-out secretions which flood the lungs of Covid-19 patients.

To protect medical personnel, UV-C lamps would light areas where the brochoscope-like device enters the patient's body and overhead low-level far-UVC lamps would help sterilize the room.

To prevent Bronchospasm, a 'lite' version of this device can use a thin optic fiber lit by a far-UVC source outside the body. The fiber is inserted by mouth and emits far-UVC light from 'holes' along in its optic fiber coating.

sonam, Mar 22 2020

Article on far ultraviolet C in hospital setting https://www.genengn...cteria-and-viruses/
UV Light That Is Safe for Humans but Bad for Bacteria and Viruses [sonam, Mar 22 2020]

Far-UVC optic fiber used to kill bacteria https://www.bioopti...ing-medical-devices
Article on externally lit far-UVC optic fiber used to kill bacteria [sonam, Mar 22 2020]

Detection of Covid-19 in clinical specimens https://jamanetwork...fullarticle/2762997
Detection of Covid-19 in different types of clinical specimens, including lung wash and blood samples [sonam, Mar 22 2020]

“They Are Essentially Drowning in Their Own Blood.” https://www.motherj...fluids-coronavirus/
A chilling report from the frontlines why Coronavirus is so dangerous [sonam, Mar 23 2020]

Bronchoalveolar lavage https://en.wikipedi...nchoalveolar_lavage
Sounds ... uncomfortable. [8th of 7, Mar 23 2020]

"Whole lung lavage—technical details, challenges and management of complications" https://www.ncbi.nl...rticles/PMC5506114/
This document describes whole lung lavage - a procedure to 'wash out' the whole lung, not just sample part of it. This document does not cover silicosis, but others do. [sonam, Mar 25 2020]


       [-] Imagine a large sheet spattered with paint. Now take a cotton swab dipped in bleach and lightly touch one corner.   

       Sticking a light up someone’s nose or even down their throat (as satisfying as that might be to some sadistic medicos) will not illuminate or disinfect enough of the airways to do anything. And it won’t get into the alveoli at all.   

       An antiviral delivered by an inhaler (similarly to many asthma medications) might be more effective.
Chairborne Hero, Mar 22 2020

       I was about to post “my own“ HB idea for inhaled anti-virals, but Google saved me from embarrassment.
Chairborne Hero, Mar 22 2020

       The infection is systemic; it merely manifests itself in the lung tissue. Topical treatment of a specific area isn't going to help significantly, and you're obstructing an already compromised airway. There's no way any mechanical system can reach deep enough into the alveoli to do any good.
8th of 7, Mar 22 2020

       Whoa, 8th and I are in complete agreement.   

       I better adjust my (other) medications.
Chairborne Hero, Mar 22 2020

       Chairborne Hero -- Thanks. I added an explanation how reducing viral load on throat, tonsils and trachea surfaces can help lower the overall viral load the immune system must combat. Also, your 'Antiviral inhaler for influenza' link (the NEJM article) is subscription only - do you have a more open link?   

       8th of 7 -- See above. The idea is to reduce viral load. Only a small percentage (1%) of Covid cases indicate systemic infection (blood samples with positive PCR test results). But almost all lung wash samples, and most sputum samples, are positive. See latest link.
sonam, Mar 22 2020

       Valid points but not necessarily describing the problem. Reducing the viral load in the lung tissues will have a small effect, but more organisms will simply migrate in from untreated areas.   

       It's like trying to pump a swamp dry; unless you also re-engineer the water flow too, it will just trickle back in to fill the vacant space.   

       The answer is to attack and kill the virus everywhere - that means antibodies. The immune system will do that really efficiently if it has the time to do so and isn't already damaged or loaded. Hence the effect that coronavirus is really only a threat to the elderly and immune-compromised.   

       The system described will do a little good but not enough to significantly affect the prognosis; basic supportive care does that perfectly well without poking pipes into the bronchi ...   

       // 8th and I are in complete agreement. //   

       No need to worry about your medication, you're doing fine. Soon you will start to feel a strange, unaccountable compulsion to join us ... don't fight it, your instinct is correct.
8th of 7, Mar 22 2020

       [Sonam] I see you edited your original suggestion. The idea of inhalers and ventilators to deliver medications is well baked though, and your Uncle Google can give you all the open links you want on that subject.   

       UVC may be safe for area treatments (as your first article linked mentions), but consider WHY it’s regarded as safe: It doesn’t penetrate very far. The top layer of skin and the tear film of the eye are enough to stop it. A optical fiber in the bronchi could only do spot cleaning at best.   

       Forget my analogy of a paint spattered sheet - think more of a really big bath sponge. Sticking a dim optical fiber partway into one end will not illuminate the interior cells.
Chairborne Hero, Mar 22 2020

       // Soon you will start to feel a strange, unaccountable compulsion to join us //   

       You embark on that path at your own peril. My own mind is infected with many individualistic logic bombs.
Chairborne Hero, Mar 22 2020

       8th, Chairborne - Good points all, and I get all your analogies -- believe me. Yes, a properly choreographed immune response by your own (or donated) antibodies is the best weapon againt Covid. However, read the latest link -- several patients face a cytokine storm that fill their lungs with fluid despite being on ventilators. This idea is particularly applicable to vulnerable people on ventilators.   

       Chairborne - yes, antiviral delivered by an inhaler is a good idea. In fact, it could be delivered by the ventilator.   

       I'm aware far-UVC doesn't penetrate tissue much. It could be augmented with cycles of UVA and UVB. Yes, there's the risk of cancer, but given the alternative, it may be worth it.
sonam, Mar 23 2020

       The cytokine storm effect is what killed many of the victims of the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic- young people with highly reactive immune systems experienced "over-triggering".   

       It's controllable if the medics catch it quickly.   

       UV is probably going to irritate and inflame lung tissue, as it is never normally exposed to light - that's going to be counterproductive. The epidermis gets bashed by UV a lot and has compensating and protective mechanisms, including melanin. Mucous membranes don't have that.
8th of 7, Mar 23 2020

       sp. "epidermis", "Mucous".   

       Carry on ...
pertinax, Mar 23 2020

       Sp. fixed ...
8th of 7, Mar 23 2020

       // lung wash //   

       TIL that's a thing. I wonder why it isn't used for coal miners and long-term smokers.
notexactly, Mar 23 2020

       Because euthanasia is illegal ?
8th of 7, Mar 23 2020

       notexactly: "Whole lung lavage" (or washing out the lungs) is used to treat some conditions, including silicosis.
sonam, Mar 23 2020

8th of 7, Mar 23 2020

       Say, 8th of 7 -- How can doctors control a cytokine storm by catching it early? Was/is this not happening in Italy?   

       Added link on whole lung lavage procedure (not specific to silicosis).
sonam, Mar 25 2020

       Steroids - the correct ones, at the correct dosage - and immunosuppressants. The cytokine storm tends to hit after the original infection has already been killed by the immune system, which continues to run "full throttle" with no target to attack.   

       Some tricyclic antidepressants have a paradoxical effect which can help with the management, not for their psychological actions but for their physiological ones.
8th of 7, Mar 25 2020


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