Pulsed Light Versus the Variants

by | Sep 1, 2021

It’s been a year and a half since I first wrote in this space about the SARS-2 Coronavirus, and the pandemic is still with us. The good news is, the vaccines that were developed in record time have been successful, reducing both the chance and severity of infection. They’ve even been effective against the highly contagious Delta variant, which is now the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Still, scientists are worried that new strains may evolve that resist our vaccines. Of course, if that happens, new vaccines will be developed, and our communities will get better at coping with the threat.

But it raises an important question: Is Pulsed Light effective against Delta and other coronavirus variants? And if so, why?

A “hammer” of energy
So far, Pulsed Light has proven to be effective against all coronavirus variants. In fact, it has been found to be effective against hundreds of pathogens including bacteria, viruses, spores, and fungi. It even works against the so-called “superbugs,” the bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

To understand why this is so, we need a little bit of science. Pulsed Light works by delivering powerful high-energy bursts of light. Saad Ahmed, lead scientist and VP Operations at XENON, compares it to a hammer blow: “You store up the energy when you lift the hammer, and you deliver it all at once when the hammer strikes the nail. The energy is compressed into an instant in time, and delivered to a focused area. That’s how Pulsed Light works.” This burst of energy destroys the RNA of the virus, literally breaking it down so it can no longer function.

Where vaccines and antibodies work at a biological level, Pulsed Light works as a physical force. As a result, even if a virus evolves, the “hammer” of Pulsed Light energy destroys it.

A permanent line of defense
This is important because it means that Pulsed Light is essentially a permanent defense against pathogens. It won’t become obsolete next month or next year due to new viruses.

While Pulsed Light generates powerful energy bursts, the technology is safe when properly applied. For example, it’s widely used in hospitals to aid in disinfection during turnover of patient rooms. It is being used by hotels, schools and public transportation during times when those spaces are not occupied. Since Pulsed Light does not generate heat (the energy burst is too brief), it’s used to decontaminate food to improve safety and reduce spoilage.

Of course, Pulsed Light is only one weapon in the fight against Covid-19. Vaccines, masks, and social distancing remain critical lines of defense. But in our highly populated and mobile societies, we need to think about the long term. There will be future mutations of the coronavirus, and new contagions may emerge. Food safety will always be an issue.

That’s why XENON is working with OEMS and researchers around the world to find, develop, and produce solutions based on Pulsed Light. It’s an investment in public health and safety, and it’s also an investment that will pay dividends for a long time to come.

Please contact XENON here if you have questions or application ideas you’d like to explore.