COVID-19 brain disorders, the body's immunological memory and far UVC lights: RAZOR full episode


This week's RAZOR is COVID-19 special examining antibody testing, the effect of COVID-19 on the brain, and a new far UVC light that kills viruses.

In nine months we've learned that SARS-CoV-2 affects many different organ systems. Scientists have now added neurological manifestations to a lengthening list. More than 300 studies from around the globe have found a prevalence of neurological abnormalities in COVID-19 patients ranging from brain inflammation, delirium, nerve damage and stroke. 

Recent research has shown that T-cells – which play a central role in our immune response – may last for years after targeting a pathogen. This is encouraging news after a Spanish study revealed that patients suffering mild symptoms of COVD-19 may only carry protective antibodies for a few weeks. That was the latest study to show that building herd immunity against the virus may be unachievable without a vaccine. But could our immune system have another plan?

While we all hope for a coronavirus vaccine, many of us are keen to go about our day-to-day lives again. Physical distancing and hand washing have helped limit the spread of the virus but can't prevent all forms of transmission, particularly indoors. With the virus known to stay alive in the air for a number of hours – and on some surfaces, for days – a physicist at Columbia University is harnessing the power of light in an attempt to stop the virus before it infects.

As some countries reopen their borders to international travel, airlines are implementing measures to reduce the risk of infection for passengers. A simple cough can project droplets of different sizes into the air. Gravity will force large droplets to the ground, but the smaller ones could stay suspended in the air for a long time.  

Qingyan Chen and his team have designed a new ventilation system that doesn't mix the clean air in the cabin. Rather than coming from above it is supplied from below, directly into your breathing zone.