A study from Princeton University says that the first wave of the coronavirus is not much likely to change by differences in climate. The complete findings of this study are published in the journal Science on 18th May.
As research shows a wide majority of people are still viable targets for the coronavirus. The rate of spread of the virus is not expected to be hindered by climate change. The speed of its spread is also observed to be rather fast.
Warm and humid climates are not likely to stop or limit the spread of the virus even in its early stages explains author Rachel Baker, a postdoctoral research associate in the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI). She further explains that there is no sizeable difference that climate has proven to make on the current pandemic and as the population is very vulnerable to the threat, the virus is bound to spread regardless of climate conditions.
Baker points out those warmer and tropical regions such as Brazil, Ecuador, Australia, and other similar nations had a quick spread of the virus as it had begun to infect the population during summer seasons which is a clear indicator that climatic conditions don’t make much of a difference.
While it is not yet fully understood how temperature could affect the spread of the virus besides humidity, it is not likely that researchers might find these to be factors that might stop the spread all together if we are to consider and link together how other viruses behave, says Baker.
It is suggested by co-author Bryan Grenfell, the Kathryn Briger and Sarah Fenton Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs and associated faculty in PEI, that in the absence of a vaccine or other measures that could control coronavirus, it will only react to changes in the climate after susceptible hosts are unavailable to it.
A study conducted by Baker and Grenfell with author Wenchang Yang, an associate research scholar in geosciences; Gabriel Vecchi, professor of geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute; and C. Jessica Metcalf, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs.
The study authors being all affiliates of PEI’s Climate Change and Infectious Disease initiative published a paper observing the influence of climate conditions on an annual respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
The study included data from simulations run by researchers on how different climates in various parts of the globe affected the pandemic. Since little is known about COVID-19’s response to seasonal changes, researchers instead ran three simulations on the knowledge of how similar viruses respond to changes in season.
In the first scenario, researchers chose influenza and assumed its climate response to be similar to the coronavirus basing their actions on previous laboratory studies that pointed out less humid environments are prone to spread it. In the other two scenarios, they chose to give the virus the same dependency on specific climates and the span of immunity as the OC43 and HKU1 coronaviruses.
In the cases researched it was understood that climate change only became a significant factor once a major portion of the human population was found to be immune or had developed resistance against it.
It was also found by researchers that measures like social distancing if placed long enough will slow down and make COVID-19 more susceptible to warmer weather making this control measure rather impactful.
Gabriel Vecchi says weather is one of the several factors lining up to be explored. A better understanding of the intertwined different factors that affect induce disease evolution and its characteristics including weather, socioeconomic triggers, measures taken by the population is very much needed