Can warm weather kill coronavirus?

Symptoms

US President Donald Trump said that the oncoming warm weather in the US would stop the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

“Now the virus we’re talking about having to do, you know a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat, as the heat comes in,” Trump said in his address to the nation.

Humid air is believed to slow the spread of influenza in temperate regions, such as North America and Europe. However, it is too early to show that occurs with coronavirus. Australia and Singapore, who both banned flights from China, have been hit by the coronavirus but not as severely as other countries.

“This is a respiratory virus and they always give us trouble during cold weather, for obvious reasons,” Nelson Michael, a leading US military medical researcher, told CNN.

“We’re all inside, the windows are closed, etcetera, so we typically call that the influenza or the flu season.”

covid-19

Influenza thrives in cold and dry conditions, which is why winter is flu season for much of the northern hemisphere. Behavioural differences in winter can also have an effect. Michael predicted the coronavirus may behave like the flu and give us “less trouble as the weather warms up,” but, he cautioned, it could come back when the weather gets cold again.

“Some have even suggested that the experience with SARS in 2003 provides evidence for this assertion,” Marc Lipsitch, a Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, wrote in a statement, Bloomberg reported, adding it’s a myth that weather alone stopped the spread of SARS in 2003.

“It was killed by extremely intense public health interventions in mainland Chinese cities, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Canada and elsewhere,” Michael said.

Radical action by governments to close borders in countries with coronavirus and actions such as stoping the mass meetings of people to try to decrease the number of new COVID-19 cases, is meant to give health systems breathing space to cope with the initial influx of coronavirus patients and give time for a vaccine to be developed.

“This is why it’s really important to understand that a lot of what we’re doing now is getting ourselves ready for what we’re calling the second wave of this,” Michael said.

The worst-hit areas around the world; Wuhan, China, where the virus was first detected, Iran, Italy and South Korea, are on more or less the same latitude, with similar temperatures and relative humidity. Researchers at the University of Maryland used this data to attempt to map out other parts of the world that could be at risk of imminent outbreaks.

Though the research remains preliminary, data from the study suggests that certain climatic conditions, while not determining whether the virus can survive, may help accelerate its spread.

“In addition to having similar average temperature, humidity, and latitude profiles, (locations along latitude 30-50°N) also exhibit a commonality in that the timing of the outbreak coincides with a nadir in the yearly temperature cycle, and thus with relatively stable temperatures over a more than a one month period of time,” the authors wrote.

Lipsitch said it is also a myth to think that coronavirus will behave the same way the common cold reacts to the onset of summer.

“Predicting how a novel virus will behave based on how others behave is always speculative, but sometimes we have to do so when we have little else to go on,” he wrote. “The other reason this is a myth is that seasonal viruses that have been in the population for a long time behave differently from viruses that are newly introduced to the population.”

Few people have immunity to a new virus, Lipsitch said. “The consequence is that new viruses, like pandemic influenza, can spread outside the normal season for their longer-established cousins.”

Vaccine

Latest news about coronavirus COVID-19

  • Singapore effectively bans travel to and travellers from Italy, France, Spain and Germany;
  • Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was 8.5% lower, Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 5.8%, China’s Shanghai Composite fell 3.3%, India’s Nifty 50 stock index was halted for 45 minutes after it fell 10% and hit a “circuit-breaker”, the Dow and S&P 500 in the US had their biggest one-day decline since 1987;
  • Ghana and Gabon confirm first cases of coronavirus;
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suspends all public gatherings across the world;
  • Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, has tested positive to coronavirus. They both are in 14-day isolation;
  • China, the epicentre of the virus, reports just eight cases – five in Wuhan and three from overseas travellers.

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