As coronavirus continues to spread across the world, a simple solution has been repeated by some leaders: Warm summer temperatures will stop the outbreak in its tracks.
In Southeast Asia, officials in Indonesia have offered a warm climate as the reason that no cases have been diagnosed there. “Indonesia’s air is not like the air in China that is subtropical,” said Achmad Yurianto, a senior official in Indonesia’s health ministry, in response to a study suggesting there are likely to be undetected cases in the country.
However, infectious disease experts say while the factors that cause other viruses to retreat during the summer months could affect this coronavirus, called COVID-19, in a similar way, there’s no way to be sure. And, even if the virus’ spread does slow as temperatures rise, that doesn’t mean it will be gone for good.
There’s precedent for the idea that the COVID-19 outbreak will collapse with the onset of summer.
The common cold is most prevalent in the winter and spring, and influenza is most common during the fall and winter in the U.S., with flu activity peaking between December and February, according to the CDC.
It appears that COVID-19 is transmitted in the same fashion as the flu and common cold: by close contact with infected people and from respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
There’s a variety of reasons that influenza and cold infections plummet in the summer, but a major one is that that warm, humid weather can make it harder for respiratory droplets to spread viruses.
But health experts aren’t so sure that COVID-19, can be stopped by the onset of summer.