Will warmer weather in the spring help kill off COVID for good?

Flower blooming in warm weather of early spring
Photo via Heinz Bunse/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Despite high hopes, warmer spring weather will not stop COVID-19 from spreading. In the spring of 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggested COVID may be less likely to spread during spring and summer due to higher temperatures, higher humidity, and increased sunlight. After more than a year of the pandemic, however, experts now believe it is unlikely that warm weather will affect the spread of COVID-19.

Multiple studies show that weather does not have any significant impact on the spread of COVID-19. One study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found the relative importance of weather in the spread of COVID-19 was less than 3% and considered a “noninfluential factor.” In comparison, the relative importance of traveling was 34%, and spending time at home was 26%. The relative importance of population and urban density were found to be 23% and 13% respectively.

There may be a correlation between season and the spread of COVID-19, however. When the weather is nice, urging people outdoors, it could lead to a decline in COVID cases. The opposite is also possible: when it is colder and people spend more time indoors, COVID cases may rise.

“It’s not what the temperature does, it’s what the temperature makes people do,” Dr. Aaron Glatt, lead epidemiologist and infectious diseases chief at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, told Healthline. “The critical factor is when people are in an indoor space that’s poorly ventilated, there’s going to be a higher risk of infection. That’s the case with any respiratory illness, not just COVID.”

Warmer weather in coming months may allow more socially distanced outdoor activities, but the new, more contagious strains of COVID-19 could lead to another surge. 

Vaccination rates are picking up in the U.S., which should help fight the spread of new COVID strains. The U.S. is currently vaccinating 2 million people per day, and the Biden administration hopes to continue increasing the country’s vaccination rate. The Biden administration has also secured enough doses to potentially vaccinate all American adults by the end of May.

Sources: The Atlantic, Science of the Total Environment, Healthline, The Hill

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