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Wed 25 Mar 2020 06:20 PM

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Myths busted: Will coronavirus die in summer months?

Experts have cautioned that any impact on the coronavirus from warm weather is likely to be minimal

Myths busted: Will coronavirus die in summer months?

Evidence to date actually shows that Covid-19 can be transmitted in all areas, Dr. Esper says. Climate is not a factor.

Despite widespread rumours to the contrary, the new coronavirus is unlikely to die off in the summer months in hotter conditions, according to global experts.

Around the world, a number of politicians and public figures – including US President Donald Trump – have suggested that the hotter summer months may lead to a drastic reduction in the spread of the coronavirus.

“The heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus,” Trump told a meeting of state governors in February. “A lot of people think that goes away in April as the heat comes in.”

Experts, however, have cautioned that any impact on the coronavirus from warm weather is likely to be minimal.

In a written statement posted online, Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Centre for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath said that while the world can expect “modest declines” in the contagiousness of coronavirus in warmer weather, “it is not reasonable to expect these declines alone to slow transmission enough to make a big dent.”

Lipsitch added that the misconception partly stems from a widespread – but incorrect – belief that the SARS virus in 2003 went away as the weather got warmer.

“SARS did not die of natural causes,” he wrote. “It was killed by extremely intense public health interventions in mainland Chinese cities, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Canada and elsewhere.”

Additionally, Lipsitch noted that, contrary to popular belief, even seasonal infections can happen ‘out of season’ when they are new, as is the novel coronavirus.

“New viruses have a temporary but important advantage - few or no individuals in the population are immune to them,” he added. “Old viruses, which have been in the population for longer, operate on a thinner margin. Most humans are immune, and they have to make do with transmitting among the few who aren’t.”

“In simple terms, viruses that have been around for a long time can make a living – spread through the population – only when they are the most favourable, in this case in winter,” Lipsitch said.

Globally, there have been almost 440,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including close to 20,000 fatalities.

Other myths busted

Pediatric infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD, debunks five other common myths you may read online:

Myth 1: Hair dryers can kill the novel coronavirus

“People are thinking hot air kills this virus and are using blow dryers or somehow increasing the room temperature to help prevent the spread, but that will not happen,” Dr. Esper says. “That type of heat is not necessarily going to cause a change in the infectiousness of this particular virus.” 

Myth 2: Hot, humid climates protect you from Covid-19

Think those in tropical or desert areas are in the clear? No. Evidence to date actually shows that Covid-19 can be transmitted in all areas, Dr. Esper says. Climate is not a factor.

Myth 3: Mosquitoes can spread coronavirus

Some people believe mosquitoes can spread the virus, but that’s not the case.

“This is a respiratory virus and honestly we’re doing just fine passing it amongst ourselves,” Dr. Esper says. “We don’t need mosquitoes’ help.

“Mosquitoes can transmit disease only by sucking your blood and transferring that blood into someone else,” he notes. So, yes, mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile virus and malaria. But, he says, this virus doesn’t stay in your blood very long so mosquitoes aren’t a threat for transmitting it.

Myth 4: Ibuprofen can make a CovidD-19 infection worse

While there was a report from the French Ministry of Health that made headlines recently suggesting ibuprofen can exacerbate a coronavirus infection, Dr. Esper says the evidence doesn’t support that. “We have not seen this in any of our experience here in the United States,” he says.

Myth 5: Only older people are at risk for the novel coronavirus

Guess again, says Dr. Esper. “Younger adults can get infected and can get severe infection — although not nearly as often as in older adults. We are really recognizing that young adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s should still be very vigilant to make sure that they don’t get this virus.”

What’s not myth? Dr. Esper says the best way to prevent Covid-19 infection is by frequently washing your hands, using hand sanitizer and practicing social distancing.

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