New developments about the Novel Coronavirus seem to appear every day, and unfortunately, by far not all of them are good news. As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, scientists have initially hoped the warm temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in countries located in that part of the world, as is the case with the Influenza virus. However, contrary to these preliminary hypotheses, a recent investigation shows that the Novel Coronavirus may be here to stay for the summer.
How Temperature Sensitive Is COVID-19?
The Novel Coronavirus has been suggested to be sensitive to temperature, light and humidity levels when it comes to the virus’ survival on different surfaces, which made many people reason that the virus would possibly go away or become seasonal during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. However, it seems that this assumption doesn’t follow when it comes to the epidemiology of the disease on a worldwide scale.
A Canadian research article based on data from the World Health Organization and published by the Canadian Medical Association recently investigated how latitude, climate, humidity, and temperatures influence the spread of the Novel Coronavirus across 144 diverse regions on the planet and found a strong negative correlation between any of those factors and the spread of the disease in these regions.
The researchers took data about the spread of COVID-19 in these regions during 2 separate weeks - March 7-13 and March 21-27, 2020 - with a 14-day break between the sampling, equal to the maximum incubation period of the virus, to allow enough time for the new patients to exhibit the first symptoms. Apart from the geopolitical and climatic conditions we mentioned previously, the authors also accounted for several social distancing measures, such as restrictions of mass gatherings and school closures.
Overall, the researchers looked at 375,609 cases of COVID-19. A detailed statistical analysis of all these conditions combined showed that contrary to their expectations, the authors found that weather conditions, particularly temperature and humidity didn’t reduce the spread of the virus at all.
What did help hinder the spread of the virus were the social distancing measures different countries took to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The more restrictions a region imposed, the fewer new cases of the Novel Coronavirus had appeared in that region. As one of the authors, Prof. Dionne Gesink, explained in an interview with Medical News Today:
“Summer is not going to make this go away. It’s important people know that. On the other hand, the more public health interventions an area had in place, the bigger the impact on slowing the epidemic growth. These public health interventions are really important because they’re the only thing working right now to slow the epidemic.”
Thus, unfortunately, it seems like we cannot rely on the summer heat to chase away the COVID-19 pandemic, and social distancing measures are here to stay for the warm months, so be prepared.