Will COVID-19 calm down during the summer?

The hardest part about the pandemic we’re facing right now is that the future is so uncertain. Will we be able to have barbecues in time for the Fourth of July? Will the kids go back to school in August? Will Halloween even happen? At this point, who knows?

Scientists can make guesses based upon the best information and research they have available to them… but no one can predict exactly what the virus will do in the months and years to come. That said, there’s some good news…

There’s solid evidence that summer could offer a slight reprieve from this intense pandemic. Why?

Because new research shows that sunlight could be COVID-19’s kryptonite.

The summer sun will likely make COVID-19 much less of a threat

U.S. government researchers made a hopeful discovery recently — sunlight has a powerful ability to kill the SARS-CoV virus. Higher temps and humidity seem to take a toll on the virus too.

In the study, researchers found that the amount of virus on a non-porous surface (like a door handle or stainless steel) was cut in half after only two minutes when exposed to sunlight at a temperature of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 Celsius) and a humidity of 80 percent.

Researchers also found that when the virus was aerosolized (i.e., suspended in the air) the amount of the virus was cut in half within one hour when the temperature was 70 to 75 degrees with 20 percent humidity. When sunlight was added to the mix, that time went from one hour to one and a half minutes.

In other words? Sunlight is a powerful force against this virus.

Now, some scientists are skeptical about these results, because in the past, the UV light in sunlight (known as UVA) hasn’t been particularly good at killing viruses. Another type of UV light called UVC is better at killing viruses, but it’s not present in sunlight. That’s caused some scientists to question the validity of the results. But as of now, the researchers who conducted this study are sticking to the story that UVA can indeed kill SARS-CoV.

There’s also additional evidence that COVID-19 may be impeded by hot, humid weather. For example, it’s spread is less rapid in the Southern Hemisphere. Countries like Australia have far fewer cases than their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. India is another warm-climate country that’s reporting unusually low numbers of infections.

One of the researchers involved in this latest study, Department of Homeland Security official William Bryan, concluded that summer-like conditions “will create an environment (where) transmission can be decreased.” And that, my friends, is cause for celebration.

Stay strong and keep social distancing (even during the summer)

Even though summer will likely offer a slight reprieve from COVID-19, we’re still in for a challenging year ahead. We can safely say there won’t be any festivals or huge Fourth of July celebrations. Most likely, we’ll still have to limit our social interaction to some degree… just not as strictly as we have been this spring.

Right now, health experts also believe COVID-19 transmission will spike once cold and flu season hits, which could mean a lot more serious social distancing in our future… plus a very strange holiday season.

But for now, keep yourself going with the hope that this summer you can resume some of your normal activities and enjoy some R&R in the sun… maybe even with a small handful of friends and family members.

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Sources:

  1. Sunlight destroys coronavirus quickly, say US scientists — MedicalXpress.
  2. US govt reveals details of sunlight study on virus — MedicalXpress.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.