Researchers and infectious diseases experts have warned that unless humans imbibe sound health practices, and until policymakers make level-headed policies, the spread of coronavirus will continue.
The health experts expressed different opinion on whether or not warm weather could stem the spread of coronavirus or kill the virus altogether.
It may be recalled that President Donald Trump, during a meeting with American state governors at the White House in February, had said, “The heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus;” and that “it would be gone by April.”
As of Friday afternoon, the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has risen to 5,043, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.
A total of 3,176 people have died in mainland China, followed by 1,016 in Italy, and 514 in Iran — the three countries with the highest number of deaths.
Since COVID-19 was first detected in December in China, more than 134,300 people have been infected in 121 countries and territories.
Speaking on the expectation that warm weather could paralyse coronavirus, a Honorary Senior Lecturer in Virology and President of Research-Aid Networks at the University of Kent, Dr.Jeremy Rossman, warned that, contrary to what many people like to believe about coronavirus, warm weather is not likely to kill it.
Rossman, a virologist, said the assumption was based on the comparison of coronavirus with flu.
Rossman made his opinion known in The Conversation, a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by academics and researchers.
The researcher said, “In many ways COVID-19 is like the flu – both spread in similar ways (respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces) and both cause typically mild respiratory diseases that can develop into life-threatening pneumonia. But the transmissibility and severity of COVID-19 are much greater than the flu. And it isn’t clear if COVID-19 transmission will be affected by seasonal temperature variation.”
Health Expert at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Nancy Messionnier, warned against assuming the number of cases will slow as the weather warms. “I think it’s premature to assume that. We haven’t been through even a single year with this pathogen,” she warned.
This agrees with the submission of Dr. John Nicholls, who said, “Because COVID-19 is so new, there is no natural immunity in the population and thus, all bets are off.”
Again, Harvard epidemiologist, Marc Lipsitch, warns that warmer weather “is not enough to slow transmission enough to make a big dent.”
He added, “New viruses have a temporary but important advantage — few or no individuals in the population are immune to them,” as is the case with the new coronavirus pandemic.
This is contrary to the opinion of an epidemiology expert at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Stefan Baral, who was quoted by the Boston Herald as saying he expects “a natural decrease” of the disease as America moves into warmer weather.
A Professor of Pathology at the University of Hong Kong, Dr. John Nicholls, said there were three things coronavirus does not like — sunlight, temperature and humidity.
“Sunlight will cut the virus’s ability to grow in half, so the half-life will be 2.5 minutes, and in the dark it’s about 13 to 20 minutes. Sunlight is really good at killing viruses,” Nicholls said.
Nicholls view is corroborated by a virologist at Germany’s Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Thomas Pietschmann.