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Scepticism remains as study says warm, humid weather could slow coronavirus

  • Published at 01:35 pm March 31st, 2020
India: concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19)
A man wearing a protective mask walks towards a bus that will take him to a quarantine facility, amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in Nizamuddin, area of New Delhi, India on March 31, 2020 Reuters

Asian countries experiencing monsoon may experience lesser transmission of the virus

There is debate about whether warmer weather can actually impede the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A new research has suggested that warmer weather can help slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, although scientists have warned the changing of the seasons will not put a stop to the pandemic by itself, reports The Independent.

Multiple early studies provide evidence of statistical ties between temperature and humidity ranges and the geographic regions where this virus has thrived.

While none of these studies has been peer-reviewed, they all point to the same general possibility: Asian countries experiencing monsoon may experience lesser transmission of the virus.

Scientists at China’s Beijing and Tsinghua University, who examined the spread of the disease in 100 Chinese cities, found “high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of Covid-19.”

The number of people infected per carrier of the disease fell relative to increased temperature and humidity, their study found.

Researchers at the University of Maryland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US came to similar conclusions.

“Based on what we have documented so far, it appears that the virus has a harder time spreading between people in warmer, tropical climates,” said Mohammad Sajadi, associate professor at the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, who lead a study which used weather data to predict the spread of Covid-19.

The findings, described in Social Science Research Network, show that 90% of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, transmissions until March 22 have occurred in regions with temperature between 3°C and 17°C.

The researchers added that these regions also had between 4 to 9 gram per cubic metre (g/m3) of absolute humidity - a measure of the amount of water vapour per cubic metre of atmosphere.

According to the MIT scientists, the total number of cases in countries with mean temperature greater than 18°C and absolute humidity more than 9 g/m3 in January-February-early March is less than 6%.

Based on their analysis, the scientists noted that Asian countries experiencing monsoon may see a slowdown in transmission as absolute humidity is generally above 10g/m3 during monsoon.

The researchers also emphasized that the results "in no way suggest that 2019-nCoV would not spread in warm humid regions."

They said effective public health interventions should be implemented across the world to slow down the transmission of 2019-nCoV.