The hot Indian summer won’t slow down covid-19, according to this study

With the number of covid-19 cases still on a rise, our faith in the hot Indian summer neutralising SARS-CoV-2 is being shattered.
summer heat
According to the India Meteorological Department, the temperature is only poised to rise over the weekend. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 8 May 2020, 14:00 pm IST
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While we all have been practicing social distancing, the increasing statistics are making us question what is still causing a rise in covid-19 cases. A ray of hope had come to Indians earlier when multiple reports suggested that the country’s harsh summer might stop covid-19 in its track. The latest research, however, proves otherwise.  

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal minutely paid attention to 144 geopolitical areas—states and provinces in Australia, the US, and Canada as well as various countries around the world—to study the impact of latitude and temperature on covid-19. 

The study took into account the impact of latitude, temperature, humidity, school closures, restrictions of mass gatherings, and social distancing while assessing the growth of the pandemic during the period of March 7 to 13. They finally compared the number of cases on March 27 with those on March 20.

So, do warmer temperatures help decrease the growth percentage?
Interestingly, it was found that latitude or temperature had little to no bearings on the growth of covid-19. Even the humidity doesn’t help much in reducing the transmission of the pandemic.

The good old summer heat won’t help step covid-19 transmission. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“We had conducted a preliminary study that suggested both latitude and temperature could play a role. But when we repeated the study under much more rigorous conditions, we got the opposite result,” said Peter Juni from the University of Toronto, and St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada.

The co-author of the study and epidemiologist at Dalla Lana School of Public Health in Canada, Professor Dionne Gesink reiterated the disappointing truth saying that the “Summer is not going to make this go away.”

Is social distancing helping us though?
We have all left our pre-pandemic behaviors behind and accepted life in self-isolation as the new normal. But with the statistics still on the rise, the real question is: are all our sacrifices going in vain? 

Social distancing
Social distancing is actually working, ladies. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

To this, the researchers say: “Our study provides important new evidence, using global data from the covid-19 epidemic, that these public health interventions (social distancing and self-isolation) have reduced epidemic growth.”

That said, it is important to note that even though public health interventions through social distancing are working effectively right now, the researchers claim that several study limitations—such as differences in testing practices, the inability to estimate actual rates of covid-19 and compliance with social distancing—restrict concrete results. 

While lockdown 3.0 will come to an end soon, important questions of post lockdown health safety are yet to be answered. After all, each country’s governments and public health authorities should carefully weigh-in the impact of these measures against potential economic and mental health harms and benefits before announcing their next steps. Here’s hoping we hear India’s next steps soon.

(With inputs from PTI)

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