Will coronavirus go away when summer gets going?
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Will coronavirus go away when summer gets going?

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A paper published by researchers at MIT says that most of Covid-19 cases developed in places with mean temperature below 18 degree Celsius. It predicts novel coronavirus pandemic slowing down when temperature rises.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • MIT research finds most of Covid-19 cases developed in temperatures below 18 degree Celsius
  • Paper says higher summer temperature is likely to slowdown Covid-19
  • Researchers attribute surge in Covid-19 cases in warmer places to late testing

There has been talk that novel coronavirus spread would slow down as summer gains strength in the northern hemisphere. The limited impact of novel coronavirus pandemic in the southern hemisphere has also been cited as collaborative evidence for this “speculation” about Covid-19 spread.

The doctors dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak across the world, however, advised not to believe this as there was no data to back it up. Further, another coronavirus epidemic, the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) that broke out in Saudi Arabia and spread to other parts of the Middle East was first reported in September. This is the time when the sun beats hard on the Arabian peninsula.

But now a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US has studied the spread of novel coronavirus to rekindle this debate.

Analysing the data of Covid-19 spread till March 22, the authors of the paper say, “Based on the current data on the spread of 2019-nCoV, we hypothesize that the lower number of cases in tropical countries might be due to warm humid conditions, under which the spread of the virus might be slower as has been observed for other viruses.”

“Our analysis shows that the chances of reduced spreading due to environmental factors would be limited across most of northern Europe and North America (USA and Canada) in summer,” says the paper published under the aegis of J-Clinic, the epicentre of artificial intelligence and health care at the MIT.

The study points out a close relation between temperature and humidity conditions on one hand and the spread of Covid-19 between January 22 and March 21. It found that most of new cases of novel coronavirus developed in places where mean temperature stood in the range of 4-10 degree Celsius.

It says after March 10, a surge was seen in the number of Covid-19 cases where mean temperature was below 18 degree Celsius. Explaining the recent increase in number in warmer and humid regions, the MIT paper attributed it to late testing.

However, the authors of the paper guards against generalization of the findings to say that they “no way suggest that 2019-nCoV would not spread in warm humid regions”.

The paper recommended effective public health interventions should be implemented across the world to slow down the transmission of 2019-nCoV. Simply put, it says summer temperatures may slow down novel coronavirus infection but will not stop it completely.