Summer’s higher temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are unlikely to significantly limit the growth of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Princeton University study published Monday in the journal Science.
Several statistical studies conducted over the past few months have shown a slight correlation between climate and the novel coronavirus — namely, that the hotter and more humid it is, the less likely the virus is to spread.
But the findings remain preliminary, and much remains unknown about the exact relationship between climate and COVID-19.
The Princeton study does not rule out the correlation entirely but concludes that the impact of climate on the spread of the virus is “modest.”
“Our findings suggest, without effective control measures, strong outbreaks are likely in more humid climates and summer weather will not substantially limit pandemic growth,” the study said.
“We project that warmer or more humid climates will not slow the virus at the early stage of the pandemic,” said Rachel Baker, a postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI).
While climate, particularly humidity, plays a role in the spread of other coronaviruses and the annual flu viruses which spread around the world, the study said a more important factor is the absence of widespread immunity to COVID-19 at the present time.
“We do see some influence of climate on the size and timing of the pandemic, but in general, because there’s so much susceptibility in the population, the virus will spread quickly no matter the climate conditions,” Baker said.