Currents News Staff
The coronavirus continues to ravage parts of the United states, early studies are pointing to a connection between cooler temperatures, low humidity and the geographical regions where the virus is thriving.
Experts like infectious disease ecologist Micaela Martinez are tracking the seasonal patterns of the virus where preliminary studies show warmer parts of the world have slower rates of transmission
“A lot of the science is in the early stages,” professor Martinez explained. “The thing is right now, because this is a novel emerging infectious disease, the majority of our population — the majority of the world — is susceptible.”
Researchers at MIT found areas with temperatures between 37 and 62 degrees had higher rates of transmission, whereas countries with more tropical climates accounted for fewer than six percent of the global cases so far.
Early studies out of Europe and China found similar trends and also reported the virus was heartier in dry conditions suggesting that humidity levels also play a role.
And while much more information is needed to truly understand the impact of weather on the disease’s progression, those early indicators prompted the nation’s top infectious disease doctor to speak out about it too.
“What we’re starting to see now in the southern hemisphere, in southern Africa, and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season,” explained Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
Fauci warns that if outbreaks there are substantial, the northern hemisphere could get hit a second time.
“We need to be prepared that we will get a cycle around a second time,” he said.
Professor Martinez agreed that people should remain vigilant, because even though the spread may slow, it could easily reemerge in the fall.
“Even if we see seasonal declines in transmissions or slowing down, that’s not going to act as a stop lever to shut off transmission,” she said.
“It totally emphasizes the need to do what we’re doing,” added Fauci, “the need to develop a vaccine, testing it quickly, and get it ready so we’ll have a vaccine available for that next cycle”