According to some studies, even if transmission of the virus slows down in the summer, COVID-19 could return at the first cold snap.
A climatic spring is about to come in the Northern Hemisphere. Many hope that with the final departure of winter, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has gripped almost the entire world, will subside..
Last month, President Donald Trump suggested that the pandemic could end in April as the average daily temperature rises. From time to time, publications appear in the press, the authors of which suggest that the number of transmission of coronavirus in tropical countries is relatively low due to the heat and humidity, which “kill” the virus.
This may turn out to be true. However, Christopher Morse, a virologist at the George Washington University, is not quite sure about this: “I probably would not bet on this, anyway,” he said in an interview with Voice of America..
In countries with a temperate climate, influenza and SARS epidemics are influenced by the seasonal factor. The COVID-19 virus is a respiratory illness very similar to the flu and related to the coronaviruses that cause the common cold in people..
Based on the behavior of other coronaviruses, a group of Swiss and Swedish microbiologists suggested that cases of infection with COVID-19 could decline with the arrival of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
However, this does not mean that the virus will be defeated. The model they have developed shows that a new outbreak will begin as early as next winter..
Is the virus afraid of heat and humidity?
Scientists do not know all the reasons why seasonal factors affect flu epidemics. One of the assumptions is that viruses spread more easily in dry air conditions, as is usually the case in winter..
However, humidity itself does not seem to affect the new coronavirus, according to another study prepared by researchers at Harvard University in Boston. They found that in China, the virus has spread to many regions, including northern China with its dry and frosty weather and the south of the country, which is warm and humid..
In addition, transmission of the virus continues in Singapore, a hot country with a humid tropical climate..
Heat and humidity cannot completely stop the spread of the flu. According to some studies, transmission of the disease decreases as it approaches the equator, but influenza continues to be one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death in tropical countries. In addition, during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, the highest death rates were recorded in tropical Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia and Guatemala..
Weather is not the only reason for the declining wave of influenza infections in the Northern Hemisphere. The timetable of the school year plays an important role.
Cases of influenza, chickenpox, measles and other respiratory diseases increase during the school year, said Mark Lipsich, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Harvard University. When schoolchildren start summer holidays, the incidence drops..
Myth The heat and the sun kills COVID 19
More and more schools are canceling classes in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. However, it is not known whether this will play a big role. Although the new coronavirus causes relatively mild symptoms in children, they may well be carriers of it. It is unknown how large a role children play in the current epidemic.
“Understanding this is critical if we want to know if school closings will help control the spread of COVID-19 and how summer holidays will help reduce the spread,” says Lipsic’s article published on the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics website..
Another reason the COVID-19 pandemic could remain on the planet for a long time is the “temporary but important advantage” that new viruses have, writes Lipsich: “Almost no one or no people are immune against them.”.
This means that little can prevent the return of the coronavirus, even if at some point the weather conditions change in its favor. If the rate of infection slows down in the summer, COVID-19 could return in the fall. And, quite possibly, next fall. COVID-19 may become a regular “guest” of the Earth, depending on how long the immunity to this disease will remain in patients who have been ill, according to a study co-authored with Lipsich. This is why the development of a vaccine and therapy for treating this disease is so important..