There may be a glimmer of optimistic news amidst all the Coronavirus reports but with this outrageous pandemic, there are really no clear answers except that it is highly contagious. As the weather gets warmer (March 19th was the first day of spring), research says the spread of coronavirus could be slowed because of the rise in temperatures and humidity. This effect was also seen with SARS.
The research came out of MIT, using data from Johns Hopkins University, and found that the maximum number of coronavirus transmissions took place in regions that had temperatures between 3 and 13 °C. But in countries with average temperatures above 18 °C there were fewer than 5% of cases. This was seen in warmer states in the US including Florida, Texas and Arizona. The outbreak expanded slower than in colder states such as New York and Washington.
Another study out of The University of Utah used mocked-up shells (representing the disease’s protective outer layer but they are not infectious) full of the sequenced genome of SARS-CoV-2. “We’re making a faithful replica of the virus packaging that holds everything together. The idea is to figure out what makes this virus fall apart, what makes it tick, what makes it die.”
University of Utah physicist Saveez Saffarian and her team are looking at the impact of temperature on the virus from a hot, sticky summer day to a cold, air-conditioned office using a tweezer-like tool that allows them to look at individual molecules.”Coronavirus spreads similarly to the influenza virus — as small mucus droplets suspended in the air … Viruses lose infectivity because the particles lose structural integrity,” Saffarian said in a statement. “The physics of how the droplets evolve in different temperature and humidity conditions affect how infectious it is.”
Physicist Michael Vershinin who is working with Saffarian said, “We’re making a faithful replica of the virus packaging that holds everything together. The idea is to figure out what makes this virus fall apart, what makes it tick, what makes it die.”
Two other studies, from research teams in Spain, Finland, and China, had similar results to the MIT study finding that the disease spread slower in hotter and humid conditions. However, these papers are simply drawing correlations, not causation. Warmer weather WILL NOT bring the disease to a rapid halt as there are many other factors involved. Marc Lipsitch, the director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health, said recently, “While we may expect modest declines in the contagiousness of SARS-CoV-2 in warmer, wetter weather, it is not reasonable to expect these declines alone to slow transmission enough to make a big dent.”