11 Jun Research Suggests Higher Temperature and Humidity Will Make Coronavirus Transmission More Difficult
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mohammad Sajadi, MD
Institute of Human Virology
Global Virus Network Center of Excellence
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21201
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Because of geographical proximity and significant travel connections, epidemiological modeling of the epicenter predicted that regions in Southeast Asia, and specifically Bangkok would follow Wuhan, and China in the COVID-19 epidemic. When we saw this did not happen, we suspected that SARS-CoV-2 might be acting like a seasonal respiratory virus.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that in looking at the early pandemic spread, areas that had significant community transmission were those that were experiencing winter weather conditions in the temperate areas of the world. Specifically, we found that major transmission was occurring in a band roughly along the 30-50o N’ corridor at consistently similar weather patterns consisting of average temperatures of 5-11oC, combined with low specific (3-6 g/kg) and absolute humidity (4-7 g/m3).
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The distribution of significant community outbreaks along restricted latitude, temperature, and humidity are consistent with the behavior of a seasonal respiratory virus. I view seasonality to refer to temperature and humidity requirements that greatly aid in transmission of the virus. One thing to keep in mind is that seasonal respiratory viruses are present year-round in tropical and subtropical areas, and in those areas other factors can drive transmissions, but we expect higher temperatures and humidity to make the spread of the virus more difficult. Even for seasonal respiratory viruses in temperate areas, there are other important factors that are involved in transmission.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: This study defined conditions in which virus spread was more likely. The ranges given are seen across many months in temperate areas during the fall/winter, but there may be additional climate factors that could better help predict at-risk areas. Climate factors should be taken into account, along with other factors, in the epidemiological modelling of COVID-19. Finally, the climate conditions listed can be tested in the laboratory models of infection, as has been done with influenza.
Sajadi MM, Habibzadeh P, Vintzileos A, Shokouhi S, Miralles-Wilhelm F, Amoroso A. Temperature, Humidity, and Latitude Analysis to Estimate Potential Spread and Seasonality of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(6):e2011834. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.11834
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