Keep in Mind: The Virus Ignores Seasons

Today is the first official day of winter. If only there were a way to freeze out Covid-19. One of the many things that scientists have learned about Covid-19 over time is that the virus thrives in all seasons. Robert Roy Britt wrote this story in July, but many of the learnings remain. Here’s what’s changed about the knowledge of Covid-19 over time when it comes to seasonality:

Then: Because heat and humidity reduce the virulence of influenza and some other viruses, slowing their spread in summer, there had been speculation that the novel coronavirus might similarly subside, but outbreaks in March in the Southern Hemisphere, when it was warm there, largely dashed those hopes.

Now: If heat and humidity have any seasonal dampening effect on this virus, it’s clearly minor. Rising case numbers across the U.S. Sunbelt in June and July provide “very abundant evidence” that heat “is not going to help the virus go away,” Hanage says.

What it means: There will likely be a huge “reservoir” of infected people heading into fall, so new infections could surge even more rapidly as colder weather forces people into more crowded indoor situations. That surge would coincide with the expected seasonal rise in flu cases, potentially overloading health care systems. “We can expect there to be an even greater challenge as we move into the colder months,” Hanage says.

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