FACT CHECK: Does sunlight kill coronavirus?

Brad Sylvester, DCNF 

A post shared on Facebook claims that standing in the sunlight for 15 minutes will kill the COVID-19 virus.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that sunlight can kill the new coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that people can catch the COVID-19 virus “no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.”

Fact Check:

Sunlight has been cited as an alleged prevention method against contracting the new coronavirus by multiple social media users, with this particular post claiming, “Sunlight kills the Coronaviru [sic] (COVID-19) 15 minutes & you’re good to go”

But like many other supposed prevention methods making the rounds online, there is no evidence it is actually effective. The speculation about using sunlight to kill the new virus seems to stem from it containing ultraviolet (UV) rays that can kill viruses at certain levels. However, the level of UV needed to kill viruses far exceeds that found in sunlight, according to USA Today.

“Ultraviolet (UV) is able to kill COVID-19 if it is exposed to the concentrated UV ray in certain amounts of time and distance,” Dr. Pokrath Hansasuta, an assistant professor of virology in Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Microbiology, told AFP Fact Check. “However, that level of UV exposure is harmful to human’s skin. Most likely, it will be in a light bulb or lamp as the natural UV from the sun is not strong enough to kill it.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against using man-made UV sources to kill the COVID-19 virus because they can cause skin irritation. It also notes on its website that people can catch the disease “no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not mention sunlight as a means of preventing or treating the virus either.

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-16 currently available, according to the WHO. The CDC website states that the best way for individuals to protect themselves from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is to wash their hands thoroughly, practice social distancing and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth after touching surfaces.

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