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Coronavirus crisis: Hot summer unlikely to slow down virus; infection to be more frequent in winters

Dr Rachel Baker, lead author of the research, said: "We project that warmer or more humid climates will not slow the virus at the early stage of the pandemic... the virus will spread quickly no matter the climate conditions"

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | May 19, 2020 | Updated 18:38 IST
Coronavirus crisis: Hot summer unlikely to slow down virus; infection to be more frequent in winters
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A Princeton University study suggests that warmer weather alone is not likely to slow the spread of coronavirus in Delhi. The research says that local variations in the climate like hot summers are not likely to make a significant impact on the first wave of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the local climate's effect on the spread of virus increases once there is some kind of immunity among people. The resistance in population is also expected to be higher in the future waves.

Dr Rachel Baker, lead author of the research, said: "We project that warmer or more humid climates will not slow the virus at the early stage of the pandemic... the virus will spread quickly no matter the climate conditions."

"Our findings suggest, without effective control measures, strong outbreaks are likely in more humid climates and summer weather will not substantially limit pandemic growth," researchers said. They further noted that a large number of global populations are still vulnerable and the virus' speed suggests the impact of local climate conditions are unlikely to make any significant change in the rate of infection.

The study, however, doesn't look into the individual behaviour of the virus under different humidity and temperature conditions. The researchers' simulation model, on how the global pandemic would respond to various climates, is based on historical data associated with seasonal variations of similar viruses in past. They used the data of influenza virus and human coronavirus HKU1 and OC43, which are the reasons behind the common cold.

The research adds that based on experience with other viruses in the past, in the absence of interventions - vaccination and physical distancing - the virus spread is unlikely to slow down in southern hemisphere. Additionally, once a sizeable population becomes immune to the virus, the COVID-19 may start behaving like other variants of coronaviruses - HKU1 and OC43 - and would be more frequent during the winters.

The researchers say that the trajectory of COVID-19 over the next few months would be influenced by factors such as social distancing measures and immune response, including "its strength and duration" in the human population.

(Edited by Vivek Dubey)

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