Health News

Will Coronavirus Pandemic Diminish by Summer?

This study is conducted at MIT and was published in SSRN on March 19, 2020 and is reproduced here with a link for the viewers to access it conveniently to know more about whether the spread of Coronavirus has possessed any relation with the weather pattern https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3558757

Qasim Bukhari

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Yusuf Jameel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: March 17, 2020

Abstract

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has spread rapidly to multiple countries and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. While influenza virus has been shown to be affected by weather, it is unknown if COVID19 is similarly affected. In this work, we analyze the patterns in local weather of the regions affected by 2019-nCoV. Our results indicate that 90% of the 2019-nCoV transmissions until March 22, 2020 have occurred in regions with temperature between 3 and 17C and absolute humidity between 4 to 9g/m3. The total number of cases in countries with mean Jan-Feb-early March temperature >18C and absolute humidity > 9 g/m3 is less than 6%. Given previous associations between viral transmission and humidity and the small range of absolute humidity (4 – 9g/m3) across which the majority of the 320,000 2019-nCoV cases have been observed, absolute humidity might play a role in determining the spread of 2019-nCoV, although the mechanistic understanding of the association between the spread of 2019-nCoV and absolute humidity is unknown and is being investigated. Absolute humidity is <9g/m3, at air temperatures below 15C. Between 15 and 25 C, it is > 9g/m3 only at modest or high relative humidity (>60%). Therefore, if humidity plays any role in the transmission of 2019-nCoV, its ability to limit the transmission might be negligible until June for much of North America and Europe, as most of these regions might not experience an absolute humidity of >9g/m3. On the other hand, Asian countries experiencing monsoon may see a slowdown in transmission as absolute humidity is generally >10g/m3 during monsoon With more than 10,000 cases being reported in regions with mean temperature >18C after March 15, the role of warmer temperature in slowing the spread of the 2019-nCoV as suggested previously, might only be observed, if at all, at much higher temperatures. Hence, the role of temperature in reducing transmission could also be limited in much of northern US and European cities (above 45N) as mean temperature is ~20C or lower until June and after September. Therefore, our analysis suggests that the role of environmental factors in reducing the spread of 2019-nCoV could be limited across most of northern Europe and North America in the coming months. Our conclusions are based on currently available data with several unknowns including how the virus is mutating and evolving, case fertility ratio, reproductive numbers and direct versus indirect transmissions. The relation between temperature and humidity and the spread of 2019-nCoV cases should be closely monitored and studied under different climatic conditions in controlled laboratory settings. If a strong environmental dependence in the spread of 2019-nCOV emerges then it should be used to optimize the 2019-nCoV mitigation strategies. Our results in no way suggest that 2019-nCoV would not spread in warm humid regions and effective public health interventions should be implemented across the world to slow down the transmission of 2019-nCoV.

Credit: SSRN/19/3/2020




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