The threat posed by coronavirus is unlikely to be mitigated by warmer weather, a National Academies of Sciences panel informed the White House in a report.
US President Donald Trump has said he believed that like the flu, the novel coronavirus could dissipate as summer approaches.
“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,” Trump said in early March.
But the panel warned in a letter that though “there is some evidence to suggest that [coronavirus] may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity… given the lack of host immunity globally, this reduction in transmission efficiency may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread” without active efforts to suppress it.
The experts noted that past coronavirus outbreaks, such as SARS and MERS, “have not demonstrated any evidence of seasonality following their emergence.”
And they added, “given that countries currently in ‘summer’ climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed.”
Besides Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also suggested warm weather could help. Asked last month if the spread of the COVID-19 disease could be curbed by rising temperatures, Fauci answered: “It very well might. And the reason I say that is that what we’re starting to see now in the Southern Hemisphere, in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season.”
The number of US coronavirus cases rose to over 430,000 Thursday, with nearly 15,000 deaths. The past two days have seen some 2,000 deaths a day in the nation.
The virus has now killed nearly 90,000 people worldwide and infected over 1.5 million.
But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the epidemic curve seemed to be flattening. The governor said that despite the rise, the hospitalization rate was continuing to decrease because of social confinement orders.
“We are hopefully heading toward a final stretch, the light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said.
Agencies contributed to this report.