New Report From UN Predicts that COVID-19 May become ‘Seasonal’
More than a year after being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, which first surfaced in Wuhan, China and has killed nearly 2.7million people globally, still has quite some number of mysteries surrounding its mode of transmission.
In a recent report by a 16-member team set up by the UN’ World Meteorological Organisation, some indications have been found that the disease has the tendency to develop into a seasonal menace as studies reveal that transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease, “may become seasonal overtime”.
The expert team explained that respiratory viral infections are often seasonal and “this has fuelled expectations that, if it persists for many years, Covid-19 will prove to be a strongly seasonal disease,” it said in a statement.
But Covid-19 transmission dynamics so far appear to have been influenced mainly by government interventions like mask mandates and travel restrictions, they said, rather than the weather.
Although, Task Team co-chair, Ben Zaitchik of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at The John Hopkins University in the United States, Ben Zaitchik has said that ‘at this stage, the evidence does not support the use of meteorological and air quality factors as a basis for governments to relax their interventions aimed at reducing transmission,”
He noted that infections in some places rose in warm seasons during the first wave of the pandemic and there is no evidence that this couldn’t happen again in coming years.
The experts, who focused only on outdoor meteorology and air quality conditions in the report, said laboratory studies had provided some evidence the virus survives longer in cold, dry weather and when there is low ultraviolet radiation yet it remains unclear whether meteorological influences “have a meaningful influence on transmission rates under real-world conditions”.
They also highlighted that evidence around the impact of air quality on the virus remained “inconclusive”.
There was some preliminary evidence that poor air quality increases Covid-19 mortality rates, “but not that pollution directly impacts the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2”.