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11 Jan, 2021 15:58

Dr. Strangelove would surely approve! Russian scientists propose zapping Covid-19 infected cells with RADIATION to end pandemic

Dr. Strangelove would surely approve! Russian scientists propose zapping Covid-19 infected cells with RADIATION to end pandemic

It's not quite nuking the virus but the world’s battle against Covid-19 might go from waves of infection to microwaves, under proposals from Russian and Uzbekistani scientists that could see patients treated with radiation.

The press service of the Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg reported on Monday that a team from the two countries had found that weak doses of X-rays can destroy the genetic makeup of Covid-19, preventing it from replicating.

According to Anatoly Zatsepin, a physics professor at the institute, “the essence of this pioneering idea is that the huge RNA molecule of this virus is forced to deform significantly in many areas along its length when it gets into a human cell.” These bending points, his team say, are an ideal target for electromagnetic waves.

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Crucially, the academic adds, in their experiments “it turned out that deformed places along the RNA molecule are a thousand times more sensitive to radiation than molecules of healthy cells. It follows that low doses of radiation harmful to the virus would be absolutely safe for healthy cells.”

This opens up the possibility that X-rays could be used to treat patients who test positive for coronavirus, operating on the same principle as chemotherapy, which damages cancerous cells more than healthy ones. In addition, the findings might mean hospitals and other buildings use radiation to disinfect areas and limit the spread of the pandemic. However, Zatsepin notes that further research will be needed to determine how this mechanism works in the real world.

More than 430 people have died of Covid-19-related complications in Russia in the past 24 hours, representing the largest one-day drop in the number of fatalities since November. However, experts have warned that this might not be a sustainable trend, and instead reflects people staying at home over the New Year holidays.

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