Coronavirus Cases To Decline in Summer? Transmission Will Continue

While some experts argue that coronavirus cases may decline in summers, its transmission will continue.

3 min read
While some experts argue that coronavirus cases may decline in summers, its transmission will continue.

With the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) confirming over 300 individuals testing positive for COVID-19, some news reports have sparked the debate whether countries like India may witness decline in infections with the onset of summers.

In an e-mail response to FIT, Prof K Srinath Reddy, president of PHFI (Public Health Foundation of India) said that coronavirus does gets impacted by variation in temperature but this behaviour is restricted only to certain strains of microorganism.

“Other coronaviruses have been shown to show seasonal variations, subsiding in summer heat. We do not know if this new entrant to the group will behave similarly or be a deviant ‘enfant terrible’.”
Prof K Srinath Reddy, President, PHFI

In a recent opinion piece for BloombergQuint, David Fickling wrote that ‘temperature and humidity do make a difference in the ability of the virus to infect large numbers.’

Citing example of Iran, which ‘accounts for 90 percent of Coronavirus cases in middle east,’ David Fickling explains in his piece how plateau-like geographical location makes way for winters similar to that witnessed in other northerly countries.

Going by that logic, India, where temperatures range between 38 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius between April and June, should be less susceptible to infections.

However, Prof Srinath Reddy, explains that survival of the virus will also depend on the length of route taken in transmission.

“Human-to-human transmission by the droplet route is less likely to be affected by heat if the virus flies from human through a short route of travel. However, survival time of the virus on surfaces (furniture, utensils etc) may be more temperature sensitive.”
Prof K Srinath Reddy, President, PHFI

Dr Sunil Arora, Secretary of FORDA (Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association) is of the opinion that the behaviour of virus outside human body is ‘unpredictable’.

“It is quite unpredictable to guess the virus behaviour outside the body itself. With increase in day length and exposure time along with increase in humidity, it is expected to have lesser cases in summers.”
Dr Sunil Arora, Secretary, FORDA

Whether there is a direct link between temperature and life span of virus, Dr Arora says:

“To be very frank not many studies are available on effect of temperature on the virus itself and researchers are trying their level best to establish a corelation.”
Dr Sunil Arora, Secretary, FORDA

According to some researchers working with the World Health Organisation, though the virus does not have an immunity of its own, it can manage to survive via transmission from one individual to another.

“Presently, studies have shown that the virus can survive for 24 hours on cardboard and copper while it can last longer up to 3 days on plastic and steel. We have to see if summer heat alters that.”
Prof K Srinath Reddy, President, PHFI

A recent study on COVID-19 by some scholars in China has concluded that ‘high temperature and humidity have potential to reduce transmission.’

Responding to a question on whether summer season that usually witnesses lesser no. of viral infections will help in containing coronavirus cases in India, Dr Reddy told The Quint:

“We have to hope that the COVID-19 virus too gives us that opportunity while we determinedly strive to curtail transmission before that through border lockdown and internal shutdown measures. Summer can also increase transmission as families travel during vacations but the continued limitations on travel will obviate that risk.”
Prof K Srinath Reddy, President, PHFI

FORDA Secretary, Dr Sunil Arora, concurs with that notion with an emphasis on quarantine, ‘Measures must be taken at community level to stop the spread.’

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