Coronavirus won't go away with warmer weather: Scientist

Health Desk
9 April 2020, Thu
Published: 09:01

Coronavirus won't go away with warmer weather: Scientist

A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Tuesday that it doesn't look like coronavirus will go away once the weather warms up. President Trump has claimed that "when it gets a little warmer miraculously goes away."

In their letter to the White House, members of a National Academy of Sciences committee said 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 coronavirus.

"There is some evidence to suggest that 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.

The letter noted, for example, that a study of the outbreak in China showed that even under maximum temperature and humidity conditions, the virus spread "exponentially," with every infected person spreading it to nearly two other people on average.

"A lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April," he said on February 10 in remarks to the nation's governors.

Trump repeated the claim later that day at a political rally in New Hampshire.

"Looks like in April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away," he said.

Schaffner, an adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the NAS report gives "a more sobering assessment" of the situation than Trump did.

"The president walks on the sunny side of the street, and this takes us over to the shady side of the street," Schaffner said. "It makes us realize that springtime is likely not going to be a total solution."

The letter from the NAS scientists notes that some laboratory studies have shown reduced transmission of the virus under warmer and more humid conditions, but that it's still a concern.

"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.

The letter also notes that while flu typically is seasonal, that's not necessarily the case when there's a new strain of the flu and very few individuals have any immunity. Source: CNN