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Experts warn that there is no proof the coronavirus will stop spreading in warmer weather

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz , Business Insider US
 Apr 14, 2020, 01:25 PM
Tourists on a beach in the Dominican Republic.
  • Some have hoped that warmer weather would slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Health experts warn that we don't know yet what the virus will do.
  • A recently released report indicates that the studies published so far on potential seasonal effects have conflicting results and are hampered by weak data.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

While springtime may bring hope of life returning to normal in the Northern Hemisphere, scientists don't think people should bet on warm weather alone being enough to stop the coronavirus from spreading at alarming rates.

There have been several studies on how a change in temperature could affect the coronavirus. However, the results have been conflicted and hampered by weak data, a report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said.

"One should not assume that we are going to be rescued by a change in the weather" Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Thursday on Good Morning America. "You must assume that the virus will continue to do its thing."

There has been some precedent of other coronaviruses and influenza not thriving in warmer temperatures, but at this time there is no proof that Covid-19 will respond similarly.

Some studies outlined in the report did find that that an increase in temperature or humidity led to a drop in the transmission of the virus. Still, the data it was based on was not without its flaws, the report said.

One early study out of China's Hubei province suggested that for every 1 degree C increase in atmospheric temperature at relatively high levels of humidity, daily confirmed cases decreased 36-57%, but the results didn't hold up across mainland China.

A different study found that 90% of global transmission through March 22 occurred when temperatures were 3-17 degrees C. That study, though, didn't figure in variables like a country's testing capacities or policy responses.

"Some limited data support a potential waning of cases in warmer and more humid seasons, yet none are without major limitations," the report says. "Given that countries currently in 'summer' climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in the humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed."

The conflicting studies don't necessarily mean that summer vacations are entirely off the table, though.

Fauci told CBS This Morning that getaways "can be in the cards."

"And I say that with some caution, because as I said, when we do that, when we pull back and try to open up the country, as we often use that terminology, we have to be prepared that when the infections start to rear their heads again that we have it in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contract trace and make sure we don't have those spikes we have now," Fauci said. "So, the answer to your question is yes, if we do the things that we need to do to prevent the resurgence."

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