Many hope this summer will give us a reprieve from the coronavirus. But a big question remains: As the weather warms up, will the coronavirus pandemic wind down?
Scientists are divided. Some believe the heat won’t matter. “These viruses, and this one, are not so mindful of time of year,” says Stanford University microbiologist David Relman. “They care much more about whether there are susceptible humans close enough together for it to jump from one to the next, to the next, to the next.”
Others point to a study at University of Hong Kong that found the virus deteriorated over time when stored in a lab at 72 degrees. Evidence from similar viruses also suggests COVID may transmit less efficiently in the spring and summer months.
Right now Australia and Singapore are experiencing high temperatures and lower infection rates, but that’s not the case everywhere. “Look at New Orleans,” says Relman. “New Orleans has a terrible, explosive outbreak right now, and New Orleans is one of the warmest places in the United States right now as well.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., says the coronavirus will continue to do its own thing, and that there’s no guarantee the weather will come to the rescue.
The 2002-2003 epidemic of SARS eased over the summer months, although it is not clear if that was related to weather or coincided with tighter public health interventions.