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Warmer weather will not slow the rate of COVID-19 infection 

Summer will not slow down the spread of COVID-19 infection, according to a new study from Fudan University. Despite previous findings that warmer temperatures reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the latest study has found no such association.

Many viral infections, such as influenza, are known to diminish in hotter weather, and a number of factors are thought to contribute. For example, a boost of Vitamin D helps power the body’s immune system, while UV radiation may slow the spread of respiratory diseases.

There has been widespread speculation that the rate of COVID-19 infection will start to decline in the northern hemisphere with the arrival of spring and summer.

In previous research, experts at both Beihang and Tsinghua Universities found evidence that the transmission rate of COVID-19 infection dropped in China as the temperatures rose. However, this conclusion is not supported by the Fudan study, which was led by public health expert Dr. Weibing Wang. 

“Our analysis suggests that ambient temperature has no significant impact on the transmission ability of SARS-CoV-2,” wrote the researchers. “It is premature to count on warmer weather to control COVID-19, and relying on seasonality to curb this pandemic can be a dangerous line of thought. Changing seasons may help but are unlikely to stop transmission.”

The experts explained that urgent interventions, such as community travel bans and school closures, are what is needed to help slow the rate of COVID-19 infection. 

For the investigation, the team analyzed data from the National Health Commission and the Provincial Health Commissions. The analysis was focused on the spread of COVID-19 in 224 Chinese cities, including 17 cities in the Hubei province where the outbreak originated. 

The progression of the disease was compared with daily weather data from January to early March 2020. For each region, the researchers evaluated relative humidity, average temperatures, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

The study revealed that there was no significant link between the overall COVID-19 infection rate and the temperature or levels of UV radiation exposure.

The experts pointed out that the first SARS coronavirus, which emerged in November of 2002 and ended the following July, may have been seasonal. “It also might have been controlled by effective case finding, contact tracing and quarantine.”

The study is published in the European Respiratory Journal

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer


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