Like the seasonal flu, will the coronavirus decrease during the summer months?

  • It’s unlikely that hotter weather will make an impact on the coronavirus
  • There’s not much data on how the virus replicates in extreme temperatures
  • 185 countries, in all climatic zones, have been affected by COVID-19

Despite similarities between COVID-19 symptoms and seasonal flu, experts aren’t expecting the current pandemic to ebb in the summer like flu does. 

The increase in temperature likely won’t do anything to hamper the spread of coronavirus, as there isn’t much data on how the virus’ ability to replicate may be affected by extreme temperatures. According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, this is contrary to a small number of studies which have surfaced claiming the virus can be hindered in heat and humidity. There just isn’t enough data to support this conclusion. 

These studies have short time spans and ultimately represent an incredibly small chance that warm and humid weather may stymie the number of reported cases. 

Other coronaviruses have shown a tendency for seasonality and cluster in winter months, according to the BBC, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the SARS-Cov-2 virus will follow that pattern. The novel coronavirus has significantly more severe symptoms than past iterations and a higher mortality rate (as of April 16, the global mortality rate is 6.6% and 4.8% in the U.S.). It is difficult to determine how this may affect its resistance to heat and humidity. 

A panel from the National Academies of Sciences reported to the White House that the virus is “unlikely to wane” in the summer due to uncertainties in the way temperature affects transmissibility. Specifically, the panel cited the same studies as CIDRAP, saying that they were too narrow and circumstantial to provide a solid conclusion.

Besides, the coronavirus has affected 185 countries, and as London researchers have noted, it is “effectively spanning all climatic zones, from cold and dry to hot and humid regions.”

On April 27, a group of Chinese researchers told reporters that the coronavirus will actually not fade away and instead will become a seasonal virus, like the flu, because it can infect asymptomatic carriers.

“This is very likely to be an epidemic that co-exists with humans for a long time, becomes seasonal and is sustained within human bodies,” Jin Qi, director of the Institute of Pathogen Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said.

Sources: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, BBC, The Washington Post, Daily Mail

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