Nuclear technology to help combat Covid-19

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom has offered its latest developments for the sterilisation of medical devices, this includes the destruction of pathogens, spores and viruses.

The company has already sterilised more than 24-million medical masks and over 330-thousand portable lab kits to test for Covid-19.

Nuclear technology is a major baseload power-generating source and accounts for 10.3% of global power generation in 2019, but the use of nuclear technologies during this time is not limited to maintaining stable electricity supply; “All industries need to mobilise to help to combat the negative effect of new pandemic on the global economy.

Nuclear technologies can offer multiple uses during this crisis,” says Yulia Kurashvili, Advisor to Director General of Rosatom’s JSC Rusatom Healthcare, an integrator in the field of radiation technologies in medicine and industry.

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has provided diagnostic kits, equipment, and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus causing Covid-19. The assistance, requested by 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, is part of intensified global efforts to contain infections.

Unlike other types of sterilisation, Rosatom’s sterilisation method has sufficient penetrating power, which allows it to process hermetically sealed products. The generated streams of accelerated electrons are able to penetrate the packaging of medical devices without violating their integrity, which eliminates the possibility of re-contamination of the product. Additionally, after processing the product with a stream of accelerated electrons, the product immediately becomes usable and does not require degassing or actions. This method of sterilisation is environmentally friendly as there are no side chemicals or other forms of pollution during processing.

Kurashvili notes that new challenges in the use of nuclear technologies in medicine are to be expected in the near future; “Medical devices are constantly evolving, and their functionality is changing, they are becoming hybrid. The technologies and materials for their manufacture are changing, and viruses are evolving at the same time. Specialists and medical sterilisation technologies should always be a step ahead.”

“At the end of the pandemic, the need for studies of the functional state of various organs and systems of the body of patients undergoing Covid-19 will increase. Only visualisation based on nuclear medical technologies and new radio pharmaceutical preparations will be able to provide such opportunities,” he said.

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