Washington: With the onset of winter, the most common question being asked is: Will the COVID-19 situation become worse due to the cold weather?
Going by research led by The University of Texas at Austin, the answer is, No.
According to the study, temperature and humidity do not play a significant role in coronavirus spread. This means whether it’s hot or cold outside, the transmission of COVID-19 from one person to the next depends almost entirely on human behaviour, The New Indian Express (TNIE) reported quoting PTI.
“The effect of weather is low and other features such as mobility have more impact than the weather. In terms of relative importance, the weather is one of the last parameters,” Dev Niyogi, a professor at UT Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences and Cockrell School of Engineering who led the research was quoted as saying.
The research was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Co-authors are Sajad Jamshidi, a research assistant at Purdue University, and Maryam Baniasad, a doctoral candidate at Ohio State University.
The study defined weather as “equivalent air temperature,” which combines temperature and humidity into a single value.
At the county and state scale, the researchers also investigated the relationship between coronavirus infection and human behaviour, using cellphone data to study travel habits.
The weather has no influence on COVID-19
The scientists found that the weather had nearly no influence. There was no indication that a specific type of weather promoted spread over another.
Human behaviour vs. COVID-19
Taking trips and spending time away from home were the top two contributing factors to COVID-19 growth, with a relative importance of about 34% and 26% respectively, the report said.
The next two important factors were population and urban density, with a relative importance of about 23 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
“We shouldn’t think of the problem as something driven by weather and climate. We should take personal precautions, be aware of the factors in urban exposure,” Jamshidi was quoted as saying.