Novel coronavirus really is seasonal, study suggests
May 03, 2021 at 20:14
Warm temperatures and tropical climates may really help reduce the spread of COVID-19, a new study suggests.
Still, the authors stress that their findings don't mean that summer weather will eliminate COVID-19; but it may give people a leg up against the disease.
"Rather, the higher temperatures and more intense UV [ultraviolet] radiation in summer are likely to support public health measures to contain SARS-CoV-2," the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19.
Seasonal virusShortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began in the winter of 2020, there was speculation that summer temperatures may bring relief from COVID-19.
Indeed, many respiratory viruses, including flu viruses, show a seasonal pattern, peaking during the winter and dipping during the summer.
Scientists don't know for sure why these viruses follow a seasonal pattern, but a number of factors are thought to play a role.
For example, studies suggest that many respiratory viruses are more stable and linger in the air longer in environments with cold temperatures and low humidity, Live Science previously reported.
Human behaviors, such as gathering indoors in wintertime, could also boost transmission.
Studies in lab dishes have also found that high temperature and humidity reduce the survival of SARS-CoV-2, but whether this translates to real-world transmission was unclear.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 117 countries, using data on the spread of COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic to Jan. 9, 2021.
They used statistical methods to examine the relationship between a country's latitude — which affects the amount of sunlight it receives as well as temperature and humidity — and its level of COVID-19 spread.
They found that every 1-degree increase in a country's latitude from the equator was tied to a 4.3% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases per million people.