In this work, we considered the theoretical role of low-dose radiation therapy (approximately 0.5-1.0 Gy) in the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome associated with COVID-19 infection. Monte Carlo calculations were performed to gauge the ability to deliver low-dose radiation to the thoracic mid-plane using an orthovoltage machine. In addition, the potential harm of a single dose of 0.75 Gy (whole-lung irradiation) was assessed based on the recommendations of the BEIR-VII committee of the U.S. National Research Council. Based on the results of this work, it was determined that an orthovoltage machine (minimum 300 kVp) can be used to deliver 0.75 Gy dose to the lungs while respecting cutaneous tolerance. Using data from the BEIR-VII Committee, it is evident that the apparent benefits of such radiation treatment for patients suffering from severe manifestations of the COVID-19 infectious syndrome outweigh the potential loss of life due to radiation-induced malignancy. Although the vaccination against COVID-19 has become a reality, the spread and mortality in severely ill patients remain unacceptably high. The risk of outbreaks in the future is unknown. We suggest herein that low-dose radiotherapy at the bedside should be rigorously considered as a therapeutic option since it appears to be feasible and safe in the short and long term.
©2021 by Radiation Research Society.
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