Speed Reads

summer hope?

Early studies suggest heat and humidity may help slow the coronavirus, but not all scientists are convinced

There's been a lot of speculation about whether heat and humidity could help push back the COVID-19 coronavirus, as it tends to do with other coronaviruses, and some early studies suggest that it could indeed be a factor as the Northern Hemisphere prepares for warmer months, The Washington Post reports. But there's still a lot of research to be done.

A new, non-peer reviewed study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published over the weekend found that 90 percent of coronavirus transmissions have occurred in areas with temperatures between 37 and 63 degrees and within a specific humidity range. Outside of these zones, the virus is still spreading, but it doesn't seem to move at the exponential rate it does in cooler places. For example, several countries in Southeast Asia which had a rush of visitors from mainland China earlier in the year have not seen outbreaks on the scale of those in Europe and the United States, and many of the cases in countries like Australia are believed to be travel-related. Even in some warmer states like Texas and Florida, the paper notes, are not exhibiting the same growth rates seen in New York and Washington.

Still, this is preliminary research and many scientists aren't convinced. Jeffrey Shaman, the director of Columbia University's climate and health program, urged people not to "put a lot of stock" in the MIT study and said more lab testing is required. Even the authors of the study said the possibility of slower growth rates as the weather warms isn't an excuse to throw caution to the wind, especially because the virus could re-establish itself by the fall. They also suggested countries in the Southern Hemisphere brace themselves as winter approaches. Read more at The Washington Post.