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article imageExperts warn White House — Summer weather won't kill COVID-19

By Karen Graham     Apr 9, 2020 in Science
In a public report sent to the White House, a panel of experts from the National Academy of Sciences warns that warmer, humid weather may not significantly reduce the incidence of COVID-19 infections in the population.
In the public report sent to the White House, it said, in effect: Data is mixed on whether coronavirus spreads as easily in warm weather as it does in cold weather, but that it might not matter much given that so few people in the world are immune to the new coronavirus.
"There is some evidence to suggest that [coronavirus] may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity; however, given the lack of host immunity globally, this reduction in transmission efficiency may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread without the concomitant adoption of major public health interventions," according to the letter.
Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California and a member of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats at the National Academies, said: “Given current data, we believe that the pandemic likely will not diminish because of summer, and we should be careful not to base policies and strategies around the hope that it will," according to the New York Times.
CNN is reporting that Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who is not a member of the NAS committee, also agrees that we can't rely on warmer weather causing a decline in COVID-19 cases, adding: "We have to continue to employ social distancing and other measures to reduce transmission."
A man who was unaware he had the COVID-19 illness set off a chain of transmissions that infected 15 ...
A man who was unaware he had the COVID-19 illness set off a chain of transmissions that infected 15 other people, including three who died, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said
Piero CRUCIATTI, AFP/File
Cold versus warm weather
The data is inconclusive as to whether coronavirus infections will subside in warmer weather, much like the flu virus. While there is some evidence of reduced transmissions under high temperature and humidity, the letter also notes that the virus spread "exponentially" under the same conditions in China, and is continuing to spread in balmy Australia and Iran.
"Given current data, we believe that the pandemic likely will not diminish because of summer, and we should be careful not to base policies and strategies around the hope that it will," says immunologist Kristian Andersen, a member of the panel behind the letter.
The letter also mentions research done by Tulane University's Chad Roy. He found that COVID-19 lived longer than influenza, monkeypox, tuberculosis, and the SARS virus when subjected to high heat and humidity for 16 hours, reports CNN.
And as the letter points out, in the real world, the virus is still transmitting in countries with warm weather. "Given that countries currently in 'summer' climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed," according to the letter.
During an appearance on Good Morning America, U.S. expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared to agree, according to the Associated Press, saying: just because other viruses seem to have a reduced ability to spread during warmer weather, with the coronavirus, "one should not assume that we are going to be rescued by a change in the weather."
More about coronavirus, summer weather, national academy of sciences, laboratory studies, quarantine measures
 
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