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A study links low temperatures with high COVID-19 transmissibility

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In a major breakthrough, a scientific study has found that temperature is inversely linked to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases over time.

Based on the temperature data accessed from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) databases and the statistics on COVID-19 cases from the official website of the government of Pakistan, a team of researchers from Chinese institutions have revealed that low temperatures are associated with high COVID-19 transmissibility and vice versa.  The study is funded by the prestigious National Natural Science Foundation of China, among others, and was executed by a joint team of researchers working at Beijing Institute of Technology, Shenzhen University, and Zhejiang University. The study is published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research, an international peer-reviewed journal by Springer.

The researchers investigated five Pakistani provinces (Baluchistan, Gilgit Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh) using some models of Grey Relational Analysis and a three-dimensional diagrammatic correlational analysis. The study comprehensively examined and discussed the relationship between temperature and COVID-19 transmissibility in Pakistan, a tropical climate country. The research findings illustrate heterogeneous results across regions (provinces), demonstrating asymmetric behavior, as projected by Grey Relational Analysis models. The strongest relationship between temperature and COVID-19 transmissibility was observed in Gilgit Baltistan, while the weakest relationship was observed in Sindh. The study discovered that low-temperature provinces demonstrated strong linkages between temperature and COVID-19 transmissibility. In contrast, high-temperature provinces showed weak relationship between the two variables. Based on the correlational analysis, an inverse association was found between temperature and COVID-19 cases per million persons over time.

Women in face masks ride a motorcycle amid a third wave of COVID infections in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. ©Aljazeera

 

The relationship between temperature and COVID-19 transmissibility has important implications for containing the disease’s spread, yet it is still highly debated.  While talking to the Science Insight, Muhammad Ikram, the corresponding author of the study, emphasized the role non-pharmaceutical interventions and other measures play in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. “We may debate the association between low temperature and high COVID-19 transmissibility. However in the end, we can’t wait for nature and weathers to protect us from this terrible virus. Non-pharmaceutical interventions and measures like social-distancing, face masks, and vaccinations are more important in containing the spread of the virus,” he said.

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