Warm, humid climate linked to slower COVID-19 transmission: MIT Study

A warm and humid weather is linked to slower spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a study which suggests that Asian countries experiencing monsoon may experience lesser transmission of the virus. The scientists, including Qasim Bukhari from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, assessed data on the number of COVID-19 infections in different parts of the world and compared it with two parameters of weather from all the regions – temperature and humidity.

The findings, described in SSRN repository, show that 90 per cent of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, transmissions until March 22, 2020 have occurred in regions with temperature between 3 and 17 degrees Celsius. They added that these regions also had between 4 to 9 gram per cubic metre (g/m3) of absolute humidity – a measure of the amount of water vapour per cubic metre of atmosphere. According to the MIT scientists, the total number of cases in countries with mean temperature greater than 18 degree Celsius and absolute humidity more than 9 g/m3 in January-February-early March is less than 6 per cent.

Based on their analysis, the scientists noted that Asian countries experiencing monsoon may see a slowdown in transmission as absolute humidity is generally above 10g/m3 during monsoon. “Within the US, the outbreak also shows a north-south divide. Northern (cooler) states have much higher growth rates compared to southern (warmer) states. The spread of 2019-nCoV has been limited in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona,” they reported in the study. Even in California, which spans a large climatic zone, the scientists said, the number of cases is double in the northern part of the state than in its south.

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