The Role of Environmental Factors on Transmission Rates of the COVID-19 Outbreak: An Initial Assessment in Two Spatial Scales.
21 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2020 Last revised: 16 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 9, 2020
A novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019 and has caused over 240,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of March 19, 2020. Previous studies have supported an epidemiological hypothesis that cold and dry environments facilitate the survival and spread of droplet-mediated viral diseases, and warm and humid environments see attenuated viral transmission (e.g., influenza). However, the role of temperature and humidity in transmission of COVID-19 has not yet been established. Here, we examine the spatial variability of the basic reproductive numbers of COVID-19 across provinces and cities in China and show that environmental variables alone cannot explain this variability. Our findings suggest that changes in weather alone (i.e., increase of temperature and humidity as spring and summer months arrive in the Northern Hemisphere) will not necessarily lead to declines in case count without the implementation of extensive public health interventions.
Note: Funding: MS and CP were supported by the National Institute Of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01GM130668. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Declaration of Interest: The authors have declared no competing interest.
Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus Wuhan, digital epidemiology, modeling disease outbreaks, machine learning, precision public health, machine learning in public health
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