Myth #2: The coronavirus will subside by summer

April 18, 2020

Fact: The coronavirus may follow typical annual flu patterns, but it’s possible that it will continue into the summer like the 2009 swine flu pandemic. More laboratory experiments on the survival of SARS-CoV-2 are needed to predict the next few months, but don’t count on any summer plans quite yet.

This myth arose because people believed that the coronavirus would follow the annual pattern of the common cold and flu, which spread more easily in colder months but ease up when the weather warms. Many studies by researchers have found that, so far, colder areas have higher rates of SARS-CoV-2; however, there have also been a significant number of cases in tropical areas, such as Guangxi and Singapore.

In an interview with CBS News, director of the Climate and Health Program at Columbia University Jeffrey Shaman says that while the common flu peaks in the winter and goes away in the spring, a pandemic influenza outbreak may extend into the summer, like the 2009 swine flu.

“There is heightened susceptibility in the human population that allows for transmission even as humidity conditions rise,” Shaman explained. 

The 2009 swine flu went away in June, but resurged in late August and September as humidity dropped.

“If this novel emergent coronavirus were to follow this pattern, then it would probably continue circulating until May or June, then we’d get a break, and then we might get a second wave of it in September,” Shaman said.

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