Will Covid-19 Get Worse in Winter?

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  • Bloomberg QuickTake News published this video item, entitled “Will Covid-19 Get Worse in Winter?” – below is their description.

    How will the coronavirus be different in winter? Here’s what virologist Juergen Richt, who tested Covid-19 on different surfaces, found. Dr. Richt studied how long the coronavirus can survive on a dozen different surfaces and in different weather conditions. Knowing how long the coronavirus lives under different conditions is crucial for understanding the drivers of transmission and how to stop it. A German born veterinarian, Juergen is the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and he’s been studying viruses since the 1980s. His team used an incubator to mimic the typical indoor environment, as well as average weather conditions in the fall and in the summer. He explains, “We tested the stability of SARS-CoV-2 on different surfaces, different steel surfaces, cardboard, plastics, N-95 masks, Tyvek, you name it. I think twelve different surfaces, cloth, t-shirts we bought and so on. And then we looked at what is the difference if you have a summer condition versus a spring condition and the difference was significant.” The measurement that Juergen’s group focused on was the virus’s biological half-life. That’s the time it takes for half of the virus particles, or virions, to die. They found that, in summer, the virus disintegrates and inactivates much faster. The results were released ahead of publication and peer-review at the end of August. “The half-life is much shorter than in spring and fall. Now we are coming to the fall conditions soon and the virus will stay, stay around longer and it will survive longer under these fall conditions on the same surface.” The SARS-CoV-2 virus survived on the protective material almost 7 times longer under fall conditions than summer. On N95 respirator masks, which are more protective than surgical masks, the virus survived for 27.8 hours in cooler conditions, versus 4.4 hours in summer. That’s more than 6 times longer. Juergen will study winter conditions and he fears the worst. “And now we continue with the winter conditions. And I believe it’s worse than we saw — the same or even worse — than we saw with the fall conditions. And that’s important for the epidemiologists. We have to understand how long the virus survives in a different environment. And if the virus survives in winter environment longer than a summer environment, we already know the infectious… the pressure is higher in these winter conditions compared to summer conditions and vice versa.” He is also going continue his study on fluids. “And now we go on to continue these studies not only on surfaces, but on biological fluids and certain body fluids tears, nasal secretions, saliva, urine, feces, semen. What is an environment the virus likes? And what is an environment the virus doesn’t like? So that’s one line of research we do in my lab.” The coronavirus has by no means given up all its secrets. So many mysteries remain. But, with thousands of scientists around the world studying the way it spreads, every day we’re gaining new clues and insights to help stop it.

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    In This Story: COVID-19

    Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

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    The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

    • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
    • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
    • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

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