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Monsoon may wash away coronavirus, says MIT study

NEW DELHI: Will Coronavirus pandemic diminish by summer? A research paper by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says cases in countries where January-February-early March temperature is above18 degree Celsius and high absolute humidity is less than 6 per cent, as also Asian countries experiencing monsoon may see a slowdown in transmission as absolute humidity is generally high during the season.

The paper analysed the patterns in weather of the regions affected by coronavirus and according to the authors, Qasim Bukhari and Yusuf Jameel, results indicate that 90 per cent of the transmissions until March 22 occurred in regions with temperature between 3 and 17 Celsius and less absolute humidity between 4 to 9g/m3 (grams of water vapour per cubic meter of air).

However, many health experts cited cases in Singapore and Thailand, saying virus transmission generally increases during humid weather though high temperature may slow down transmission. “Given previous associations between viral transmission and humidity and the small range of absolute humidity (4-9g/m3) across which the majority of the 3,20,000 COVID- 19 cases have been observed, absolute humidity might play a role in determining the spread of coronavirus, although the mechanistic understanding of the association between the spread of virus and absolute humidity is unknown and is being investigated,” said the paper posted in the Social Science Research Network on March 19.

The paper says if humidity plays any role in the transmission, its ability to limit the transmission might be negligible until June for much of North America and Europe, as most of these regions might not experience an absolute humidity of over 9g/m3. “With more than 10,000 cases being reported in regions with mean temperature over 18C after March 15, the role of warmer temperature in slowing the spread of 2019-nCoV, as suggested previously, might only be observed, if at all, at much higher temperatures. Hence, the role of temperature in reducing transmission could also be limited in much of northern US and European cities…,” the paper said.