Will Warm Weather Kill Coronavirus?

On Feb. 10, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump told the crowd at his rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, that the new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, could, in theory, miraculously go away in April when it gets a little warmer.

Trump said: “The virus, they’re working hard, looks like by April you know in theory when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away. I hope that’s true.”

Trump has repeated this claim a few times. On Twitter, for instance, he wrote that as “the weather heats up” the virus will hopefully become weaker. And during a meeting with various state governors in February, he said “a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.”

Will the new coronavirus go away in April?

In short: It’s too soon to tell. 

Some strains of coronavirus, such as those that cause the common cold or influenza, typically spread during cold weather and then subside as the weather heats up. Elizabeth McGraw, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, told Time magazine: “The droplets that carry viruses do not stay suspended in humid air as long, and the warmer temperatures lead to more rapid virus degradation.”

However, health experts do not know if COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus, will also be a seasonal disease. 

Dr. Nancy Messionnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was “premature” to assume that COVID-19 would dissipate during warm weather.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said, “We don’t really understand the basis of seasonality, and of course we know we absolutely nothing about this particular virus.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said that Trump’s “hope is our hope. But we don’t have knowledge that it will do that.”

The CDC also addressed this question on their website, writing:

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

While it’s possible that warm weather will inhibit the spread of the disease, that doesn’t mean that COVID-19 will be eradicated in April. We may see a lull in cases, but, like other seasonal diseases, it could re-emerge months later. 

Charles Chiu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said:

“If we continue to see sustained transmission in multiple countries, it will be very difficult to eradicate the virus. There is a risk that it may end up becoming a seasonal virus without global concerted public health interventions to prevent spread.”

It’s too early to tell if COVID-19 will be affected by warm weather. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN that he believes coronavirus will be with us “beyond this year.” 

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