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Friday, July 12, 2024

Explainer: Will warmer weather help fight the Coronavirus?

According to latest media reports, more than 6,000 people have died and more than 156,000 have been infected by COVID-19 as the disease spreads rapidly to new territories. Experts are now deliberating on the question whether warmer weather will help fight Coronavirus or not? Have a look at this explainer to read what do experts have to say?

Coronavirus appears to be single most terrifying challenge the world is deal with. According to latest media reports, more than 6,000 people have died and more than 156,000 have been infected by COVID-19 as the disease spreads rapidly to new territories. The epicenter of the outbreak has now shifted to Europe, which is recording a rapid rise in new cases every day.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 94 as of Monday after more cases were reported in Sindh.  The number of confirmed cases in Sindh rose to 76 in Sindh after more cases (25 in Karachi and one from Hyderabad) were reported in the province on Monday.

On Sunday Punjab reported its first case, while Sindh government reported 18 new cases (13 from Sukkur and five from Karachi). One new case was also reported from Islamabad Capital Territory.

There is a discrepancy in the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan as the Live Dashboard managed by the National Institute Health is updated with a delay and provincial authorities are providing a different toll.

Read more: Asia to lose $22 billions due to outbreak of Coronavirus

Interestingly, amidst fear and anguish, the scientists at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Attaur Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) have successfully established Molecular Diagnostic Assays for the detection of novel coronavirus, in collaboration with Wuhan Institute of Virology China, DZIF Germany, Columbia University USA and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) Rawalpindi. These testing kits will cost one-fourth the current price for the kits used for detecting the COVID-19.

Experts are divided on the question whether the summer be helpful fight Coronavirus or not.

Warmer weather will help deal with Coronavirus?

Experts around the world are still attempting to completely understand the origin of the virus and develop a vaccine to contain it. There is one area in which experts hope the virus will still behave like influenza, however, by tapering off in spring.

According to a report published in CNN, the warmer weather may be helpful to counter the disease. “This is a respiratory virus and they always give us trouble during cold weather, for obvious reasons,” Nelson Michael, a leading US military medical researcher, said of the novel coronavirus last week. “We’re all inside, the windows are closed, etcetera, so we typically call that the influenza or the flu season.”

Read more: Sindh announces reward for developing coronavirus vaccine

Influenza thrives in cold and dry conditions, which is why winter is flu season for much of the northern hemisphere. Behavioral differences in winter can also have an effect. Michael predicted the coronavirus may behave like the flu and give us “less trouble as the weather warms up,” but, he cautioned, it could come back when the weather gets cold again.

The hope is that, along with radical action by governments and the public to decrease the number of new cases, reduced spread during warmer weather would give health systems space to cope with the initial influx of coronavirus patients, and buy time for a potential vaccine to be developed.

“This is why it’s really important to understand that a lot of what we’re doing now is getting ourselves ready for what we’re calling the second wave of this,” Michael warned.

There is evidence to suggest the coronavirus does particularly well in certain climates.

Some of the worst hit areas around the world — from Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, to Iran, Italy and South Korea — are on more or less the same latitude, with similar temperatures and relative humidity. Researchers at the University of Maryland (UM) have even used this data to attempt to map out other parts of the world that could be at risk of imminent outbreaks.

Read more: World’s biggest cricket tournament canceled over coronavirus

Though the research remains preliminary, data from the UM study suggests that certain climatic conditions, while not determining whether the virus can survive, may help accelerate its spread.

“In addition to having similar average temperature, humidity, and latitude profiles, (locations along latitude 30-50°N) also exhibit a commonality in that the timing of the outbreak coincides with a nadir in the yearly temperature cycle, and thus with relatively stable temperatures over a more than a one month period of time,” the authors wrote.

Brittany Kmush, a public health expert at New York’s Syracuse University, who was not involved in the UM study, said that “influenza and other coronaviruses that infect humans tend to follow a seasonality, with cases peaking in the winter months in the northern hemisphere. However, we don’t know if this virus will follow a similar seasonality pattern.”

David Cennimo, who studies infectious diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said that many experts “hope — and I think the correct word is hope — that the summer will push down the case numbers,” though he added that “the data from tropical countries may rain on this hope somewhat.”

Read more: Pakistan’s civil military leadership formulates policy against Coronavirus

However, both Cennimo and Kmush cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the geographical data, pointing to the many unknowns that remain about the virus itself and its spread in recent months.

AccuWeather, the US-based forecaster, quoted Dr John Nicholls, a pathology professor at the University of Hong Kong, saying there are three things coronavirus does not like: sunlight, temperature and humidity.

“Sunlight will cut the virus’s ability to grow in half, so the half-life will be 2.5 minutes, and in the dark it’s about 13 to 20 [minutes]. Sunlight is really good at killing viruses,” Nicholls said.

Deutsche Welle also cited Thomas Pietschmann, a virologist from Germany’s Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, who said the coronavirus is “not very heat-resistant, which means that the virus quickly breaks down when temperatures rise”.

According to AccuWeather, spring will arrive in the US on March 19, while Climate-Data.org is predicting that temperatures in the Italian capital of Rome will climb to 16C-17C (60.8-62.6F), when the spring equinox arrives in Europe on March 20. Nowruz, the Persian new year that typically marks the start of springtime, is expected on March 20 in Iran.

Read more: ‘Thank God coronavirus didn’t start in India’: British economist praised China

Meanwhile, in countries in or close to the southern hemisphere, daytime temperatures between 30C (80F) in Jakarta, Indonesia, to 35C (95F) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are expected during the same period.

World Economic Forum refutes these research ideas

According to an article published by the World Economic Forum, the weather is unlikely to help fight Coronavirus. “From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 is at home in hot and humid weather, as well as the cold. You could try having a very hot bath – but that wouldn’t do much either, according to the WHO. Your body temperature will not be affected greatly by normal changes in outside temperature, which means the coronavirus will always be comfortable,” it said.


Moreover, Dr Edsel Maurice Salvana, director at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines, believes that a direct correlation between warmer countries and the slower spread of the virus “is a myth”.

“It might deactivate the virus faster if it is in on surfaces, but it won’t affect people who get sick from inhaling droplets from someone’s cough or sneeze,” said Salvana, who is also an adjunct professor for Global Health at the University of Pittsburgh in the US.