In a moment when the world seems more desperate than ever for the slightest ray of hope, here’s some (literally) sunny news:
Warm weather has been correlated with a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19.
The paper comes from a squad of data scientists and economists at Beijing schools Tsinghua University and Beihang University, using data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, related to 4,711 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The scientists looked to see what those cases’ contact was like with other patients. Then — using a great deal of sophisticated statistical analysis and modeling, trend growth curves, weather stations, and contact tracing among patients who have had COVID-19 — they came to this conclusion:
“High temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19, respectively, even after controlling for population density and GDP per capita of cities. […] This result is consistent with the fact that the high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of influenza. It indicates that the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.”
It’s important to note here that, first, the word is “indicates.” This is a data analysis and by no means a definitive piece of work. Next: We’re not talking about warm weather killing coronavirus (per the currently available information we have: it doesn’t). Or stopping it from spreading (it won’t).
But, and finally: It appears it will slow the spread.
While this might sound like little consolation, it should be. You’re going to hear a lot in the next few weeks about “flattening the curve.” Long story short: We need to slow this thing down to make sure that the highest possible number of us will get medical treatment if we need it. Slowing the spread (or “flattening the curve”) is critical to ensuring that various global health care systems aren’t overburdened by a taxing surge of serious to critical cases of COVID-19.
Warm weather will help us do that here in the Northern Hemisphere over the next few months. In the Southern Hemisphere, the oncoming colder weather looks to mean easier transmission is coming that way. Here’s hoping those places least effected by COVID-19 over the last few months have heeded the lessons and warnings facing those of us on the other side of the globe, and are readying themselves for this.