Updated: March 22, 2021 2:02:33 pm
A year since the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic, a team set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has found no link between weather and the cases or deaths caused due to coronavirus.
The first preliminary report by the Covid-19 Task Force has cautioned governments that weather and air quality should not be cited as conditions to relax measures aimed at halting the spread of coronavirus.
The 16-member interdisciplinary and international team examined temperature, humidity, solar radiation, air quality, and other key meteorological parameters and assessed their influence on the Covid-19 cases and mortality.
In its report published last week, the WMO Covid-19 Task Team stated that the transmission dynamics of coronavirus in 2020 and 2021 (till January first week) was influenced mainly by government interventions—imposing lockdowns, travel restrictions and use of face masks—rather than any meteorological factors.
“At this stage, evidence does not support the use of meteorological and air quality factors as a basis for governments to relax their interventions aimed at reducing transmission. We saw waves of infection rise in warm seasons and warm regions in the first year of the pandemic, and there is no evidence that this could not happen again in the coming year,” said Dr Ben Zaitchik, Task Team co-chair and meteorologist at the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, in the WMO statement.
However, some studies hint that poor air quality could be linked to higher Covid mortality rates.
A June 2020 study led by Gufran Beig, senior scientist at the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), concluded that a higher number of Covid-19 deaths were reported from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chennai, where the Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 levels were above normal.
“Chronic and short-term exposure to air pollution exacerbates symptoms and increases mortality rates for some respiratory diseases, and it has been consistent with Covid-19 mortality rates. But, there is no direct evidence of pollution impact on airborne viability of the virus,” the WMO Task Team’s preliminary report highlighted.
Even though flu and viral infections exhibit seasonality, the team did not record any such observation in the case of coronavirus.
” Laboratory studies show that SARS-CoV-2 virus survives longer under cold, dry and low ultraviolet radiation conditions. But, these studies have not indicated any direct meteorological influences on the virus in real world conditions,” the Task Force’s findings state.
Some other factors causing spread of the virus, mentioned by the WMO team, include human behaviour, demographics of the affected population and virus mutations.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.