For many people living with the crushing consequences of Covid-19, the summer offers a tantalizing possibility: If the coronavirus behaves like the seasonal flu, warm weather could substantially weaken the virus and allow normal life to resume. President Trump predicted exactly this outcome in February, claiming the virus would “miraculously” go away by April as temperatures rose.
A new working paper tries to put that speculation to rest by tracking how weather and other environmental conditions, such as pollution, affect the virus’s spread around the world.
The forecast from researchers is grim: Warm weather alone will not control the virus in America or abroad. Here are the results for the United States, showing weather on its own cannot meaningfully reduce infections to the rate of 1 new case per every infected person, the point by which the number of infections falls continuously.
Without social distancing and other interventions, summer will offer only a modest respite in some places, meaning stay-at-home orders and other government interventions will most likely need to continue throughout the summer.
“At the end of the day, this whole effect from weather and pollution is still pretty minor,” said Mohammad Jalali, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and one of the study’s authors. “No government should rely on the effect of the weather.”
The study, conducted by researchers at six academic institutions, found that warm weather could play a small role in slowing the virus in at least a few places and for a few months. In some of the hottest cities in the United States, like Phoenix, high temperatures could drive down the rate of infections by over 40 percent. In parts of India and Pakistan, conditions during the hotter months could make the virus less than half as likely to infect new hosts.
Continue reading the opinion piece by Nathaniel Lash and at NYTimes.com