We just entered the fourth phase of lockdown earlier this week. And distressing as this continued self-isolation situation is, there are those who are rejoicing in the relaxations that have been levied for Lockdown 4.0 by government. And while we still have a lockdown going on for us, reports of a 50-60 percent increase in the traffic have already started doing rounds.
Alarmingly enough, the “relaxations” have been misread by many as people begin to get more and more cavalier with the isolation rules. For a part of the population, Lockdown 4.0 rules and relaxations have created an illusion of diminished virus threat in their heads as they casually slip in the “all is well” mindset. Also, with the soaring temperatures, so many of us are almost positive that coronavirus would be done and dusted in no time. In fact, this is a theory that we have been hearing since the very onset of the pandemic in the country. But, is that really the case? Well, not so much if you were to believe the latest study by Princeton University.
The study suggests that increasing temperatures and the warm and humid weather alone wouldn’t be able to curb coronavirus transmissibility. As per the study, the fact that a large number of people who are still getting infected and remain prone to the infection suggests that any sorts of changes in the temperature, climatic conditions, etc. have almost no to zero effect on the spread of coronavirus and we’d need something bigger to curb it.
“We project that warmer or more humid climates will not slow the virus at the early stage of the pandemic. We do see some influence of climate on the size and timing of the pandemic, but, in general, because there’s so much susceptibility in the population, the virus will spread quickly no matter the climate conditions,” shares first author Rachel Baker, a postdoctoral research associate in the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI).
“Our findings suggest, without effective control measures, strong outbreaks are likely in more humid climates and summer weather will not substantially limit pandemic growth,” it was further added in the study. The study thus states that with the present rate of increase in the coronavirus infections, changing weather would hardly be able to hamper its spread.
The study suggests that there is a possibility of effectively mitigating the virus only after the development of “herd immunity” i.e. after a vast chunk of the population develops immunity against the virus. However, that does not seem like the case as of now. The study further adds that once that level of herd immunity is reached, the virus would start behaving just like seasonal flu and might become season specific.
For this study, the Princeton researchers’ model is based on data related to viruses similar to coronavirus that affected human population in the past like influenza, human coronavirus HKU1, and human coronavirus OC43. Through three separate simulations, they looked into how the virus would respond to different types of climates across the world. The study further states that that the spread of the coronavirus over the coming months will be mostly influenced by factors other than weather like immune response, social-distancing, and ‘its strength and duration’ among the people.
Time and again, we have been taught the importance of social distancing throughout the pandemic. It gets all the more important with the current Lockdown relaxations. Remember, relaxations don’t mean a diminished threat. Stay safe!
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