Youtube and Twitter have both taken action against a medical center after a New York Times journalist complained that their content bolstered President Trump’s claims about UV rays.
How we got here: The non-profit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center partnered earlier this month with Aytu BioScience, a pharmaceutical company, to develop the Healight Platform Technology.
Dr. Ruchi Mathur of Cedars-Sinai shared the news on Twitter on April 20, writing: “We’ve already shown that the Healight kills bacteria. Now we show that it can also kill coronavirus.” The post links to an article from Yahoo News, which said the technology ” is being studied as a potential first-in-class treatment for coronavirus and other respiratory infections.
We’ve already shown that the #Healight kills bacteria. Now we show that it can also kill #coronavirus. We’re excited to partner with .@BioScienceAytu to move the technology forward to help patients all over the world! Full story here: https://t.co/lPftJPbaFC pic.twitter.com/vEdMgIWVrQ
— Ruchi Mathur MD (@RuchiMathurMD) April 20, 2020
But NYT technology reporter Davey Alba tweeted on April 25 that she had reached out to YouTube to report the video promoting the Healight Platform Technology that was published by Aytu BioScience. She said she reported it because Twitter and Facebook users were citing the technology to support President Trump’s claim that “UV rays kill coronavirus.”
I contacted YouTube about this video, which is being shared on tons of replies on Twitter & on Facebook, by people asserting that it backs up Trump’s idea throwing it out there that UV rays kill coronavirus.
YouTube just said it removed it for violating its community guidelines. pic.twitter.com/gbs5Igq0yy
— Davey Alba (@daveyalba) April 24, 2020
Alba was referring to comments the president made during a White House briefing Thursday. He was discussing research findings which showed that light and heat could potentially shorten the lifespan of the coronavirus and subsequently slow the spread.
“Question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. And I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it,” he said. “And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re gonna test that, too. Sounds interesting, right?”
Youtube took down the video, per Alba’s request, saying it violated the company’s guidelines.
You can watch the video here.
After the YouTube video was taken down, Aytu tried to post it to Vimeo, but that video appears to have been removed as well. The video is now hosted on Aytu’s own website.
There is incredible interest in our UV light technology developed by @MarkPimentelMD and his team at @CedarsSinai For reasons still unclear, YouTube disabled the link. If you’re interested in how our technology is designed to work, here is a new link. https://t.co/n1dkFGRlLH
— Aytu_BioScience (@BioscienceAytu) April 25, 2020
Twitter appeared to temporarily suspend Aytu BioScience’s account on the platform for unknown reasons. The suspension was flagged by several Twitter users, including Larry Singer, the co-founder of Wikipedia. The account is currently active.
Can light be used to fight viruses? Certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light, called UVC can effectively kill viruses, but is strictly reserved for surfaces and is not safe for people. Scientists have recently discovered a new type of UVC, called “far-UVC” that has a shorter wavelength and doesn’t damage DNA in human cells.
“It can be safely used in occupied public spaces, and it kills pathogens in the air before we can breathe them in,” wrote David Brenner, the director of Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research, in an article published on Columbia University’s website. He also noted that this type of light has proven to be effective against other viruses but as prevention, not as a treatment for sick people.
There’s also light therapy that is administered intravenously. NBC published a report in 2017 about a doctor in the U.S. who used intravenous light therapy as an effective treatment against Lyme Disease symptoms.
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