Chinese Study Suggests Coronavirus Spreads Slower in Warmer Climates

Chris Menahan
Mar. 10, 2020

Comparing official meteorological data with the locations of all coronavirus infections suggests the virus spreads fastest at 48 degrees Fahrenheit and drops off at higher temperatures, according to Chinese researchers.

From the South China Morning Post, "Coronavirus ‘highly sensitive’ to high temperatures, but don’t bank on summer killing it off, studies say":
- Pathogen appears to spread fastest at 8.72 degrees Celsius, so countries in colder climes should ‘adopt the strictest control measures’, according to researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong province
- But head of WHO’s health emergencies programme says it is ‘a false hope’ to think Covid-19 will just disappear like the flu

The virus that causes Covid-19 may have a temperature sweet spot at which it spreads fastest, a new study has suggested, but experts say people should avoid falling into the trap of thinking it will react to seasonal changes in exactly the same way as other pathogens, like those that cause the common cold or influenza.

The study, by a team from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the capital of south China’s Guangdong province, sought to determine how the spread of the new coronavirus might be affected by changes in season and temperature.

Published last month, though yet to be peer-reviewed, the report suggested heat had a significant role to play in how the virus behaves.

“Temperature could significantly change Covid-19 transmission,” it said. “And there might be a best temperature for viral transmission.”

The “virus is highly sensitive to high temperature”, which could prevent it from spreading in warmer countries, while the opposite appeared to be true in colder climes, the study said.

As a result, it suggested that “countries and regions with a lower temperature adopt the strictest control measures”.
The way Africa has been relatively untouched would certainly suggest the virus is not as troublesome in warm climates.

One week ago, France 24 reported that health experts were "puzzled" by their low rates.

Florida has 16 confirmed cases but Gov Desantis "said Florida has not had community spread of the virus," according to Fox 35 Orlando.

(It must be noted testing in America has been extremely sparse.)
Many national governments and health authorities are banking on the coronavirus losing some of its potency as the weather warms up, as is generally the case with similar viruses that cause the common cold and influenza.

[...] The Guangzhou team based their study on every novel coronavirus case confirmed around the world between January 20 and February 4, including in more than 400 Chinese cities and regions. These were then modelled against official meteorological data for January from across China and the capital cities of each country affected.

The analysis indicated that case numbers rose in line with average temperatures up to a peak of 8.72 degrees Celsius and then declined.

“Temperature … has an impact on people’s living environments … [and] could play a significant role in public health in terms of epidemic development and control,” the study said.

It said also that climate may have played a part in why the virus broke out in Wuhan, the central China city where it was first detected.

[...] Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme, also urged people not to assume the epidemic would automatically subside in the summer.

“We have to assume the virus will continue to have the capacity to spread,” he said.

“It’s a false hope to say, yes, it will disappear like the flu … we can’t make that assumption. And there is no evidence.”
It's good that they're suggesting governments exercise an abundance of caution but for those of us in the US where our authorities are focused almost exclusively on stock market preservation and battling anti-Chinese racism we've pretty much been left to bank on the hope this just goes away in the summer.

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