One year after a disease that killed 2 million people, people continue to underestimate COVID-19.
This winter, the coronavirus has proven to be even more dangerous than epidemiologists and health officials feared, and not just because of the more contagious strains now spreading around the world. Evidence suggests that winter weather can increase transmission: in the laboratory, the virus was kept cold and dry and inactivated by ultraviolet rays of sunlight.
Coronaviruses, which tend to exhibit less seasonal variation than influenza virus, typically respond poorly to temperature changes. COVID-19, however, seems to be different, and this winter the world may face a more serious fight than we could have imagined. “People think they’re looking at something like the flu, but it’s much worse,” says Professor Richard Carson, lead author of a new study published in the journal Nature.
What may have worked in summer, he says, will pose more risks of infection in winter because of changing temperatures and lack of light. Also, the model shows that mortality increases by 160% just because of the effects of cold weather, even after the introduction of lockdowns. In addition, transmission in cold weather, if the temperature does not drop below zero, increases by a factor of 4.