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Will warm weather slow or stop the spread of COVID-19?

Warm, sun-filled days may be an important tool to take advantage of for reducing coronavirus

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As we move into late spring and early summer, sunlight, warm temperatures and high humidity will move on in too.  A question many are asking is will heat and humidity possibly be a solution to stopping COVID-19?

In theory, it sounds plausible. There’s a reason why the number of cases of seasonal flu drop dramatically during the warm and humid weather of spring and summer. In the fall and winter, we spend inordinate amounts of time indoors within close proximity to other people who may be infected. The more time we spend inside, the less sun exposure we get which also lowers vitamin D levels that are necessary for improving immune functioning helping fight off viral infections.

However, because we are still learning about COVID-19, the best answer at this time it’s not entirely understood if high heat and humidity will reduce incidences of the virus. However, I’m very hopeful.

Research findings

When in doubt and you need a reliable answer, turn to peer-reviewed research. One study published in Social Science Research Network, found that COVID-19 did not spread as efficiently in warmer weather and more humid regions of the world as it did in colder areas.

Another study also concurred finding that the transmission of COVID-19 appeared to be less efficient in warmer humid climates.  This study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, looked at global cases of the virus and found that in countries with an average temperature greater than 64.4 F and with an absolute humidity greater than 9 g/m3, had 6% fewer cases of the virus than colder areas of the world.

Then there’s a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, studying how well COVID-19 survives in varying temperatures and humidity levels and whether the spread of it would slow down in warm, humid weather. They discovered that in laboratory settings of high temperatures and high humidity, the survival rate of COVID-19 was reduced. But when other studies have looked at the spread of the virus in different climates in a more natural environment, the results were inconsistent.

Now, a new study that is yet to be made public is showing coronavirus dies faster when exposed to sunlight. William Bryan, the Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, presented this news at a White House Briefing, describing that the study found that the half life – the amount of time something can flourish before dying out – of COVID-19 in droplets of saliva when tested indoors, in low humidity and low UV lighting, is about an hour. But when tested outside subjected to warm temperatures, high humidity, and UV sunlight rays, the half life was significantly reduced to one minute and 30 seconds.

What to expect

The belief that warm, sunny and high humidity summer days will completely zap COVID-19 off the face of the earth, is unrealistic. Nonetheless, very likely, warmer weather-related changes will result in fewer infections but it does not mean that the transmission of the virus has stopped. All of us will still need to take precautions and continue to follow the steps outlined by the CDC to protect ourselves and others from the virus.

Our best bet for now is to take advantage of stepping out of our homes and into the great outdoors.  Every day, go outside and spend some time breathing in fresh air and enjoying nature. Getting outdoors is good for everyone. It boosts mood, reduces anxiety, improves blood pressure, and increases creativity and ability to focus. And if it’s a bright, sunny day, perfect.  Not only will you soak up a few sunrays, good for making vitamin D, but also possibly fending off COVID-19 too.  

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He is a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City. He is regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., trained in oncology, open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgery. He has a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.

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