There is a common belief among people that coronavirus spread will wane with rising temperatures.There is no doubt that sunny days are more likely to draw people outdoors which puts them at a higher risk of infection. But new research says that summer heat, abundant sunshine, and humidity may hamper the spread of the coronavirus, if not stop it completely.Since the first appearance of the virus in early December China, it has quickly spread to the rest of the world. The Indian subcontinent, US and Europe saw a sharp rise in the number of cases then.The largest outbreaks have been in the regions with cooler weather, pointing to the notion that the virus might begin to fade with the arrival of summertime. However, experts have already warned against counting much on the virus dying over the summer. And, they seem right to do so. The virus commonly known as COVID-19 is too new to have any tangible data to predict how the cases will react with the coming seasons.Will the Indian summer arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus? This question has been asked everywhere and researchers are trying to find an answer to this.
The INDIAN Summers
The scorching sun in the summertime could lower down the spread of the coronavirus infection in India. This was stated by the top microbiologists of the country working with the Maryland Biomedical research agency, USA, and National Institutes of Health (NIH). They suggested that the rising mercury in the summers can change the rate of transmission of the deadly virus.A well-known Indian microbiologist, Professor Y. Singh told the IANS that a temperature rise of over 40 degrees during the peak of summer can slow down the impact of coronavirus.
The microbiologist has worked with NIH and for the US Army Lab on project anthrax earlier.“The virus will survive for less time when traveling through surface or aerosol to humans in high temperatures. That leads to a change in the rate of transmission. But, if a person is carrying the virus in his body, then any change in temperature won’t have any repercussions to the infected person,” as said by Professor Y Singh, the Chief Scientist of CSIR, Institute of Genomics and Integrated Biology.A famous virologist, Dr. Akhil C Banerji who has worked with a great disease expert Anthony Fauci of the US, also stressed the fact that a temperature above 30-40 degrees can help in limiting the spread of the virus.“In case a person is standing in close vicinity of a COVID-19 patient, then he is at more risk of inhaling the virus. Temperature for sure plays its role but in Science, every study needs to be backed with data and logic. We are expecting more data on this matter,” said Dr. Akhil Banerjee at the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi.The research on other viruses displayed winter seasonality. So, an in-depth study is needed to mark this claim. Most virologists believe that the impact of COVID-19 would be less in the going summers than in the coming winters.“Even though some researchers believe that the summer theory is directly linked to the high temperature, after speaking to their Chinese counterparts, we came to know that the virus is less resistant to high temperature”, said the former General Secretary of Association of Microbiologists of India(AMI) Prof. Pratyoosh Shukla in conversation with the IANS.Generally, the other common viruses like SARS or Flu have the maximum influence from October to March. The only reason behind it is the temperature, as per Shukla.A comprehensive study at the Centre for Infectious Diseases, Edinburgh University, confirmed that three types of coronaviruses taken from the patients facing respiratory tract infections displayed winter seasonality. It revealed a pattern of infection around December and April as in the case of Influenza. The microbiologists believe COVID-19 also alters with the change in seasons and behaves differently over cool and dry regions.
The popular belief that the novel coronavirus will fade away in hot climate rests on two common presumptions.
• First, the common cold and flu caused by other coronaviruses are seasonal and go inert in summers.
• Second, the acute respiratory syndrome of 2003 died on its own in a hot climate.
COVID-19 shares 90% of its DNA with SARS and is a type of SARS. Even so, scientists consider these presumptions as myths.
“SARS never died of natural causes,” notes March Lipsitch, the professor of epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston. “The virus got dissolved by harsh public health measures in the major Chinese cities, Thailand, Canada, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and the rest of the infected areas”, he added.These measures included social distancing and isolation of people who had come in close contact with SARS infected patients. It was eye-opening for Canada to see a comeback of SARS after it relaxed the health measures.
Old vs New Viruses
We have been facing viruses for a longer time and they don’t spread as easily to humans.When H1N1 influenza appeared in 2009, it didn’t start in the winters as common flu does. The 2009 pandemic went high during the normal season instead of colder months but it took several years to grow.Southeast Asia saw a heavy influx of infections from China to Thailand, Malaysia, etc. Even though these places were hotter, they faced similar repercussions. However, it was a little slower in hot countries as compared to the colder nations. There is some seasonal tinge to it but that does not stop the epidemic from spreading out into the masses.New Viruses, like the Influenza virus, survive in the cold and dry air which blows during winters. But the chances to infect people depend on how immune a person is to them. Most people have built antibodies and are now immune to the old viruses, however, they can still transmit among those who are not immune to them.What we mean to say is, viruses are there with us for a long period. They only spread when the conditions get ideal for them like in winters, writes Lipsitch.Humans are yet to develop immunity to the newfound Covid-19 virus, which makes it easy to transmit regardless of the weather conditions or seasons.
The COVID-19 Spread Right Now
The researchers in the U.S. have aerosolized the virus in their practicing laboratory. They have manually sprayed the virus into the air to see that if it floats. What they conclude is that it remains in the air for around an hour. Aerosolized particles remain for longer in the air concerning the temperatures and humidity.
WHO has recently confirmed that the coronavirus sustains in aerosol form during the medical process. However, this is not a primary source of transmission.The Associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University believes that everybody is exposed to the new virus. She recalls that no one has had a choice to grow immunity:“Everybody is at the fair level of the infection. So, it can very easily spread among the mass population such that any climate or weather condition will matter at the least.
Too Early To Conclude
Dr. V. Ramasubramanian who is a consultant on infectious diseases at Apollo Hospitals insists that sunlight may restrain the growth and spread of the virus, but the hot climate is unlikely to stop the human-to-human spread of the virus. He says, “we know, it sustains in the human body at 37-degree celsius with the only chance that it dissipates in the outside surroundings.”The government of India also clarified the subject leaving no room for misconceptions. A Health Ministry spokesperson stated in a recent meeting that a lot needs to be understood about the virus and there is still no information to claim that coronavirus COVID-19 flourishes in rising temperatures. As it got discovered only a few months back in December 2019.Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar is of the view that natural thinking tells us that flu or a common cold is not a thing of summer. He is the head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). He says it’s better to be wary of such viruses and its impacts on our health. It is better to follow safe practices.
There is a huge pressure to re-open the economic activity of the countries across the globe which was stopped by the coronavirus crisis. A professor and researcher at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada thinks that it is safe to start the economic activity in summer months.“The relaxation in restrictions of movement are now easing out across the world but that depends on the impact of the virus on the people,” Paez said in a university press release. Paez and his international team of members examined the nexus between weather and virus transmission in Spain. The country was the worst to get hit with over 270,000 cases at the beginning.It is partially confirmed that there is a 3% decrease in transmission with every higher percentage of temperature.The winters and sunny days saw a higher number of infections, just because people moved out of their houses and ignored lockdown measures under pleasant weather.The transmission rates went down in the densely populated areas, all thanks to the popular belief among adults that they are more prone to getting infected. This has kept them indoors and the spread under control. Paez said that we are more likely to see a drop in the COVID-19 patients in a hot climate. This may be the argument for relaxing social distancing in the countries.
A Final Note
At this point, the general opinion among experts is that COVID-19 transmits slower in summers. However, it is not enough to control the spread.The worst outbreak is in the colder regions. The leading researchers and scientists will have a close eye over whether it increases in South America, Africa, and other areas as the temperature lower down. Researchers admit that we do not have enough scientific data to back these theories. So, there is no established connection between COVID-19 and the hot weather. Even the U.S. hot states like Louisiana and Florida have been hit badly by the pandemic along with the northern states of New York and Michigan.Right now, the need is to undertake a more conservative method to follow strict guidelines to remain indoors and maintain social distancing with the use of masks and sanitizers.To experience the perks of a digital record management system, sign-up with AstoCare today. Click here to get to it right now.For regular medical updates follow our blog at blog.astocare.com We care for you. For more get in touch with us at [email protected]
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