There have been some words out there in the country that the low penetration of covid-19 in Africa may be as a result of the continent’s hot weather. But is this true?
There is some truth to it. However, it is still a work in progress according to medRxiv (pronounced “med-archive”), an NGO founded by Yale University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), a research and educational institution, and BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider.
In a report published on the website of medRxiv on March 16 titled
“Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus likely to be constrained by climate”, two scientists, Miguel B. Araujo, Babak Naimi, said,
“It is still early days, but using existing data we develop a large ensemble of ecological niche models that project monthly variation in climate suitability of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus throughout a typical climatological year. The current spread suggests a degree of climate determination with Coronavirus displaying preference for cool and dry conditions. The predecessor SARS-CoV was linked to similar climate conditions. Should the spread of SARS CoV-2 continue to follow current trends, a worst-case scenario of synchronous global pandemic is improbable. More probable is the emergence of asynchronous seasonal global outbreaks much like other respiratory diseases. People in temperate warm and cold climates are more vulnerable. Those in arid climates follow next in vulnerability, while the disease will likely marginally affect the tropics.”
This may sound like a good piece of news for Africa and other countries on the tropical belt. The caveat, however, is that the above study, though completed, is yet to be peer-reviewed by other scientists.
The review mechanism ensures that the conclusion reached by a scientist(s) is either adequately replicated by other scientists or the processes used are determined to be of international standard. Until that is done, a study can not be conclusively considered to be a scientific truth.
The infection path that covid-19 will take in the next few months as the western world enters summer and how it will spread in the tropics in addition to what other scientists will come up with will prove one way or the other the veracity of the above study.
So far, according to Technology Review,
“95% of positive cases globally have thus far occurred between -2 and 10 °C, which could indicate greater transmission in cooler climates. Yet so many different variables can influence transmission. We’ve only known about the virus for a few months and have yet to actually observe what will happen as the seasons change. The virus may just barrel through the summer unimpeded, or it may exhibit stranger behavior in the winter. We need more data to make strong predictions.”
Some good news from the UK.
British scientists are reported to be racing to develop a covid-19 vaccine at the end of the year. Am sure soon, we shall hear similar news from other countries.
So, let’s be hopeful that we shall cross this bridge soon as frightening as things may look right now.
(Featured image by ace cartoonist Mustapha Bulama.)