The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 2.3 million deaths worldwide. Understanding the impact of seasonal temperature changes on coronavirus transmission is an important factor in reducing its spread in the coming years.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a large family of human coronaviruses, most of which are characterized by increased transmission in colder, less wet months and reduced transmission in warmer, wetter months.
With that in mind, researchers from the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at the University of Louisville, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the US Department of Defense’s Artificial Intelligence Center tested the theory that atmospheric temperature would also affect the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Coronavirus: How ambient temperature was associated with the spread of COVID-19
The researchers compared daily low-temperature data and recorded cases of COVID-19 in 50 countries in the Northern Hemisphere between 22 January and 6 April 2020. Their research, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, showed that As temperatures rose, the rate of new COVID-19 cases decreased.
Specifically, between 0 and 38 degrees Celsius:
- each increase by 0.5 degrees Celsius at daily low temperature was associated with 1% reduction in the growth rate of COVID-19 cases
- each decrease by 0.5 degree Celsius associated with increase to this percentage by 3.7%
- results were not significantly affected by local lockdown, mask use, or other measures to reduce COVID-19
“Although COVID-19 is a non-temperature-dependent infectious disease, our research shows that it may also have seasonal characteristics.”, said Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, co-author of the study and director of the Brown Envirome Institute. “Of course, the effect of temperature on the transmission rate is changed by social interventions, such as social distance, as well as the time people spend indoors and other factors. The combination of these factors ultimately determines the spread of COVID-19 ″.
Coronavirus: Slower spread in summer, faster in winter
The researchers concluded that summer months are associated with slower spread of COVID-19, as with other seasonal respiratory viruses. This seasonal effect could be useful in local planning for social interventions and in the time of coronavirus recurrence in the community.
The data also show that the correlation between temperature and transmissibility was much greater than the correlation between temperature and survival or death from COVID-19.
“He understands the coronavirus’s sensitivity to temperature significant implications for predicting the course of the pandemic”, said Dr. Adam Kaplin, lead author of the study. “We do not know how long the currently available vaccines will retain their benefits, nor what are the risks of new variants developing over time if the Northern and Southern Hemispheres continue to play COVID-19 table tennis on either side. of the equator, due to opposite seasons. But it is reasonable to conclude that this research suggests that, like other seasonal viruses, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could prove extremely difficult to contain over time unless there is a coordinated and collaborative global effort. to end this pandemic “, he concluded.
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