Ocean’s calling for the COVID-19 cure, Antiviral Plant and Gamma Rays

Aayushi Vaish
5 min readMay 8, 2020

When we think of public health risks, we may not think of the ocean as a factor. Increasingly, however, the health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health. Some may be surprised to read that organisms discovered at extreme depths are used to speed up the detection of COVID-19, and probably, even more to learn that, it is the environment to could give a solution to humankind.

Life itself started in the oceans, the aquatic life is a miracle in itself, it has the cure for many diseases in the world.

Bacteria, found in the depths of the ocean, are used to carry out rapid testing to detect the presence of COVID-19. “It is just one of the many prodigious uses of these organisms, which were discovered by some American microbiologists off the Adriatic in 1986”, says Francesca Santoro, an oceanographer and researcher at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO).

Francesca Santoro, IOC Project Office at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (Venice, Italy), interviewed by Corriere della Sera‘s Quimamme, explained that the ocean is an ally in fighting the virus. Not only does it help in the detection of COVID-19 but to also combat it.

Finding answers in the ocean

Microbiologists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute discovered the bacteria that underline this fundamental role for COVID-19. The bacteria were identified years ago. It is also useful to diagnose AIDS and SARS. The research, published in the Journal of Applied & Environmental Microbiology, continues to be of interest today as the ocean is a valid ally against the virus. The ocean is closely tied to human health.

Our ocean and coasts affect us — even those of us who don’t live near the shoreline.

“The marine environment is very rich from the point of view of biodiversity and resources useful for humans’ daily life are still to be discovered,” points out Francesca Santoro. The deep ocean has already given us compounds to treat cancer, inflammation, and nerve damage. Breakthroughs have also come from the ocean depths in the form of diagnostic tools.

Many people think of the deep sea as a desert. To our naked eye, it looks like there is nothing there, but hydrothermal vents have a remarkable diversity of microbes, including genetic diversity and this is where this huge potential lies.

The environment protects and helps humankind

Solutions to problems that threaten humankind come from the environment. Therefore, humankind should strive, now more than ever, to protect the ocean, rather than suffocate it with waste and plastic. The “health” of the global ocean — the interconnected system of Earth’s oceanic waters — is both affected by and a threat to human activities. While people have lived in harmony with the ocean for generations and have relied on its bounty, things have changed and the Earth is now in great danger.

“Year after year, the connection between human health and ocean health is even more evident. There is more and more research that uses substances produced by marine organisms as solutions to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer,” reiterates Francesca Santoro. “For this reason, new generations and families ought to be at the forefront of the battle for the conservation of the ocean.”

Antiviral activity of Boerhaavia diffusa root extract and the physical properties of the virus inhibitor

The aqueous extract of air-dried roots of Boerhaavia diffusa shows broad-spectrum antiviral activity and no phytoxic effects. Infection by four viruses was completely prevented, at treated and nontreated sites, when the extract was applied on two basal leaves of host plants 24 h prior to virus inoculation. This inhibition was completely reversed by the application of actinomycin D on treated leaves within 6 h of extract treatment and partially reversed within 18 h. The crude extract from resistant leaves contained an inhibitor of virus infection.The inhibitor in the root extract was partially active up to a dilution of 1:500, was completely inactivated at 95 °C for 10 min, and survived at room temperature for 20 days. The expression of inhibitory activity was prevented when the treated plants were exposed to temperatures beyond 35 °C. The inhibitory principle in the extract was nondialyzable and insoluble in organic solvents, viz., petroleum ether, solvent ether, chloroform, and benzene. It was adsorbed by animal charcoal, wood charcoal, and celite, and was precipitated by ammonium sulphate (90%), ethanol (50%), and cold trichloroacetic acid (10%). The inhibitor was not sedimented at 120 000 × g for 120 min. Further characterization is being done for positive identification of the inhibitor.

Sterilization by Gamma Irradiation

Gamma irradiation using a cobalt-60 source is a commonly used method for the inactivation of infectious specimens to be handled safely in subsequent laboratory procedures. Here, we determined irradiation doses to safely inactivate liquid proteinaceous specimens harboring different emerging/reemerging viral pathogens known to cause neglected tropical and other diseases of regional or global public health importance. By using a representative arenavirus, bunyavirus, coronavirus, filovirus, flavivirus, orthomyxovirus, and paramyxovirus, we found that these enveloped viruses differed in their susceptibility to irradiation treatment with adsorbed doses for inactivation of a target dose of 1 × 106 50% tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50)/mL ranging from 1 to 5 MRads. This finding seemed generally inversely correlated with genome size. Our data may help to guide other facilities in testing and verifying safe inactivation procedures.


Oceans are actually less explored than the Moon, there is so much in depths of vast oceans. Water and Air are the two essentials and they have a strong relation to each other.

We should always give our best to preserve oceans because that’s where it all began.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.



Aayushi Vaish

An Explorer of the Infinite Multiverse . MS - Physics , Northeastern University.