Research: The flu is most contagious in the cold, Covid +10 degrees

When the coronavirus first appeared, it was not believed that differences in weather or temperature would significantly affect the ability of the virus to spread.

However, a recent international study has shown that the weather can affect the number of infections in many ways. But it also found little evidence that weather conditions in particular affected the local spread of Covid-19, and concluded that human behavior and government action had a greater impact on the number of infections.

Wide collected research data from more than 400 locations in 26 countries – including Finland – and all global climate zones.

Areas were studied at a time when resistance to the virus was still low and Covid vaccines had not yet been introduced.

Although weather conditions had little effect on the overall spread of the virus, the researchers found something when comparing Covid’s R0 number to local temperature. R0, or reproductive number, measures how contagious a disease is.

The researchers found that R0 began to rise as temperatures reached +10 degrees Celsius and then began to decrease when the mercury hit +20 degrees. The virus was found to spread most in environments with temperatures between 8 and 18 degrees.

10 degrees Celsius

According to the professor of public health at the University of Oulu Jouni Jaakkola, coronavirus adheres best at 10 degrees.

"Adhesion decreases as the temperature rises to 20 degrees and also decreases as air cools to zero," Jaakkola said.

However, the study found that interventions, such as government restrictions, had a six-fold effect on the spread of coronavirus relative to relative temperature.

However, Jaakkola stated that weather conditions can increasingly affect the spread of the virus as the pandemic subsides.

The story continues after the picture

Jouni JaakkolaTimo Current / General

"My own opinion is that in the early stages of a coronavirus pandemic, many other factors strongly contributed to its spread. These include inventions and the extent to which populations have been immunized, first through infection and then through vaccinations," the professor explained.

The effects of temperatures on the spread of the virus are a combination of many factors. Temperature affects the viral organism itself, but also people’s resistance to it and human behavior.

Differences in influenza

Unlike the coronavirus, influenza responds differently to relative temperature. Previous studies have linked the fall in outdoor temperature to an increase in influenza cases. In other words, temperature is not as essential for the spread of influenza, but for colder infections, infections increase.

The new study found that the risk of influenza infection was highest in areas with temperatures ranging from -5 to +5 degrees. Initially, the researchers hypothesized that this also applies to the coronavirus.

"Influenza infections follow seasonal variations and typically occur during the winter season. This has been going on for at least a hundred, if not hundreds of years, and some balance has been struck here. We assumed that if there is a similarity [between coronavirus and influenza] then the epidemic should decrease in spring and summer in the same way as the flu. This was not clearly confirmed," Jaakkola said.

According to the professor, research on the topic will be continued in Finland. Researchers at the University of Oulu plan to study data from the first two years of the Covid-19 era, including more research into the possible significance of seasonal variations for the virus.

Source: The Nordic Page


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