In researching how weather conditions affect COVID-19, I was surprised to learn of the vast disparity in predictions regarding how summertime climate will affect the virus. But I suppose I should have expected that, as I’ve heard both Dr. Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and Dr. Birx (United States Global AIDS Coordinator under Presidents Obama and Trump) state numerous times during White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings that this virus presents many, many unknowns.
It’s frustrating because we all want answers. We all want to know if this will be a seasonal illness such as the common cold or various strains of flu, or if through social distancing and other recommended behaviors, we will stop COVID-19 from dominating our lives year-round.
Opinions vary about the seasonal prevalence of this disease. Here are some snippets of information I found online, sources for you to access and do your own research. One thread of evidence seeming to run throughout each article is that a warm humid climate affects COVID-19—but to what extent, we simply do not know.
New study says “high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce” spread of COVID-19 [March 18, 2020]
“According to a team of researchers, ‘High temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19.’ An increase of just one degree Celsius and of 1% relative humidity substantially lower the virus’s transmission, according to the team’s data.
The study is the latest in a limited but growing body of research, not all of which has been peer-reviewed, examining the effect of weather on the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 illness.
Study on new coronavirus says warmer weather may slow COVID-19 spread, and cooler weather may accelerate it. [March 26, 2020]
“Based on the current data on the spread of 2019-nCoV [or SARS-CoV-2, which causes the illness COVID-19], 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.”
Scientists ask: could summer heat help beat COVID-19? [April 5, 2020]
“Initial studies of other coronaviruses—the common varieties that cause colds in the UK—do suggest a seasonal pattern, with peaks occurring during winter and disappearing in spring. Intriguingly, these peaks tend to coincide with flu outbreaks. By contrast, only small amounts of coronavirus appear to be transmitted in the summer.”
Will Summer’s Heat, Humidity, and Sunlight Help Us Slow COVID-19? [April 24, 2020]
“Laboratory experiments show that heat, humidity, and exposure to sunlight significantly speed up the rates at which the novel coronavirus is destroyed, according to data revealed recently at the White House by William N. Bryan, the acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Homeland Security Department.”
The above is just a miniscule drop in the bucket of professional opinions, research data and mere educated guesses available online. We do know that according to the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, Arkansas’ summer climate in May, June and July is expected to be above normal temperature-wise and near average precipitation-wise. Being a “glass half full” kind of guy, I am choosing to believe that the hotter temperatures (and higher humidity) this summer will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we will again be able to participate in all the fun things we love to do with our friends and family.