In recent weeks, one of the hottest questions about the coronavirus has been focused around, quite literally, temperature.
President Trump has suggested that the coronavirus outbreak will be gone by April because “the heat generally speaking kills this kind of virus,” as reported by USA Today. He has appointed Vice President Pence to take charge of the U.S. response to the disease.
But, will the coronavirus be responsive to seasonal changes similar to the flu?
In short, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that the spread of the disease will abate with warmer weather. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that “at this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.”
COVID-19 is different from the virus strains that cause the flu even though it can lead to similar symptoms of respiratory problems.
So, to glean some insights, we need to look backwards to comparable outbreaks.
The SARS epidemic, which spread in 2002 across Asia, started in November and continued into July. The outbreak was contained comparatively quickly — only 8,000 people worldwide were infected.
MERS began in September 2012 in Saudi Arabia, a country with relatively higher temperatures. “We don’t see too much evidence of seasonality in MERS,” Stuart Weston, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told National Geographic.
The CDC says it is is simply too soon to know how COVID-19 will react when it first encounters warmer springtime temperatures.