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Scientists Wonder if COVID-19 Will Really Be Worse in Winter

Scientists Wonder if COVID-19 Will Really Be Worse in Winter

By    |   Thursday, 23 July 2020 03:32 PM

Many experts have predicted that the coronavirus will follow the path of the common cold and flu, becoming more virulent in winter as the weather turns cold. But others suggest there is no evidence to support that yet.

According to the Daily Mail, Oxford University students say that COVID-19 seriously affected very hot countries so it doesn’t seem to be controlled by temperature. They argued that when cooler weather arrives, people tend to get coughs and colds so they will get tested more frequently causing more false positive results.

Other research conducted by King’s College in London, linked a 1 degree C increase in temperature with a 15% decline in deaths caused by COVID-19, but Dr. Francois Cohen, who participated in the Oxford study, said the “existing data can’t reliably tell us whether warmer weather shows down the spread of COVID-19, as some earlier studies have tried to suggest.”

Cohen urges policy makers and the public to act with caution until more reliable research is available. One of his colleagues says we can be sure of one thing about the virus.

“The virus has been able to spread everywhere, including in very warm areas of the globe, such as Ecuador, Brazil and California,” said Dr. Anant Jani. “It continues to spread even in warmer states in the U.S. like Florida, California and Texas.”

Marc Lipsitch. professor of epidemiology and the Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that while cold, drier conditions are usually more favorable to the transmission of influenza, we don’t know how the current virus reacts to temperature.

Lipsitch explained one reason we see more transmission of viruses in the winter is that “humans spend more time indoors with less ventilation and less personal space than outdoors in the summer.” A prime example is the 2009 pandemic flu in the U.S. which waned in the summer and then came rapidly back in September, when schools reopened.

Another factor is the host’s immune system itself. Lipsitch said that the average person’s immune system is worse in winter because of lower melatonin and vitamin D levels in the environment due to reduced ultraviolet light exposure.

The most important point, however, is that with a new virus, anything can happen “out of season.” Most individuals have built up immunity to old viruses which now have to operate on a thinner margin, said Lipsitch.

In summary he said: “For the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, we have reason to expect that like other coronaviruses, it may transmit somewhat more efficiently in winter than in summer, though we don’t know the mechanisms responsible. The size of the change is expected to be modest, and not enough to stop transmission on its own.”

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Many experts have predicted that the coronavirus will follow the path of the common cold and flu, becoming more virulent in winter as the weather turns cold. But others suggest there is no evidence to support that yet.
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2020-32-23
Thursday, 23 July 2020 03:32 PM
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