Trump Assurances Aside, Warmer Weather May Not Slow Coronavirus

President Donald Trump has assured Americans that warm weather will smother the coronavirus in the coming months. Epidemiologists say there simply isn’t enough information to say if that’s true.

While humid air has been shown to slow the spread of influenza in temperate regions, such as North America and Europe, there’s no way to know if this will happen with the coronavirus, Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, wrote in a statement.

“Some have even suggested that the experience with SARS in 2003 provides evidence for this assertion,” he added. But it’s a myth that weather alone stopped the spread of SARS in 2003 — “it was killed by extremely intense public health interventions in mainland Chinese cities, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Canada and elsewhere.”

In a televised address last month, Trump said: “Now the virus we’re talking about having to do, you know a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat, as the heat comes in.”

It’s also a myth to think that coronavirus will behave the same way the common cold reacts to the onset of summer, according to Lipsitch.

“Predicting how a novel virus will behave based on how others behave is always speculative, but sometimes we have to do so when we have little else to go on,” Lipsitch wrote. “The other reason this is a myth is that seasonal viruses that have been in the population for a long time behave differently from viruses that are newly introduced to the population.”

Few people have immunity to a new virus, he said. “The consequence is that new viruses — like pandemic influenza — can spread outside the normal season for their longer-established cousins.”

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