COVID 19: A battle between heat and humidity Vs Sunshine

COVID 19: A battle between heat and humidity Vs Sunshine

Though some experts suggest that heat and humidity can help in slowing down COVID-19, others argue that long hours of sunshine can risk a higher incidence of the disease. Let’s investigate further. 

With the deadly COVID-19 affecting the economy all over the world, lockdowns are slowly being lifted to compensate for the damage. People are slowly crawling back to public places like the beaches and soaking in the much-needed vitamin D from sunshine. But there is a price to pay. 

A sign of a sunny day attracts many people to go out, in turn increasing the risk of infection due to a lack of social distancing. Experts speculate long exposure to sunlight also poses a high risk of contracting the virus. While on the other hand, reports state that heat and humidity can potentially slow down the spread of COVID-19. 

A recent report published in the journal Geographical Analysis gives insights on how seasonal changes influence the spread of the novel virus. 

Temperature a crucial factor:

For several weeks now, research has been conducted revolving around the effect of temperature and humidity on COVID-19. Several experimental studies explain that it is possible for the COVID-19 virus to be sensitive to heat and humidity, and with further study, experts are convinced that the rate at which the virus spreads can vary in places with different temperatures and humidity. 

Studies reveal that humidity and temperature may make the COVID-19 virus less viable by disrupting their surface proteins and outer membranes. On the other hand, the change in infection rate might differ due to the ways people change their behavior from being enclosed in spaces to spending more time outdoors. But currently, there is no solid proof to confirm that summertime can bring improvement in this current pandemic. 

Not all Pandemics or diseases follow the same seasonal patterns seen more commonly in seasonal flu outbreaks. Spanish flu, for example back in 1918, peaked during the summer months, while most of the common flu outbreaks erupt during winter. 


At high levels of humidity and heat, the authors of this study noticed a steady decline of 3% in the confirmed COVID-19 cases, possibly due to the virus dying under warmer temperatures. The opposite was observed at long exposure to the sun. More the sunshine more the rate at which the virus spread, raising concerns if it’s due to the human behavior post lockdown measures. 

The authors of the study stated that We will likely see a decrease in the incidence of COVID-19 as the weather warms up, which is an argument for relaxing social distancing to take advantage of the lower incidence associated with higher temperatures” he says. “But a more conservative approach would be to use the months of summer to continue to follow strict orders to remain in place and to crush this pandemic.”


COVID-19: Loss of smell, a new symptom added to the list

COVID-19: Loss of smell, a new symptom added to the list

New evidence finds that anosmia- loss of smell as a new symptom caused by the COVID-19 virus. Experts believe that it can be added as a potential screening tool for the novel viral infection, and here’s why!

Cases of post-viral anosmia are one of the leading causes of loss of smell among adults suffering from viral infection. This has been associated with previous coronaviruses which are usually known to cause upper respiratory tract infections and have accounted for 10-15% of the cases. Therefore it comes off as no surprise that the current novel COV ID-19 virus also causes anosmia in the infected. 

A significant number of cases from South Korea, Italy, and China prove as good evidence for COVID-19 patients developing anosmia. More than 2 out of 3 confirmed cases in Europe have been diagnosed with anosmia. It is also noticed that several COVID-19 cases also present anosmia as the only symptom. Given the above evidence, experts contemplate using anosmia of a screening tool to diagnose people with COVID-19 at the early stages. 

Cases of anosmia reflect how COVID-19 affects the brain:

“There’s something unusual about the relationship between COVID-19 and smell,” states Sandeep Robert Datta a neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School and one of the leading scientists in the study. It is well known that common cold, is associated with stuffy noses leading to a temporary loss of smell, but it found that the COVID-19 virus leaves the nose free. “But recently lots of people are complaining about losing their sense of smell when they don’t feel stuffed up at all,” Datta says. 

The team further experimented on nose cells, including the support cells and nerve cells sending messages to the brain using both mice and human models. This was especially performed to see if there were any signs of a link between the cells and the ACE2 receptor. A small recap: ACE2 receptor is the primary receptor in humans which the COVID-19 viruses used to attach to the host and cause infection. 

The researchers from the study found that the results demonstrated a molecular signal showing that ACE2 receptors were present in nose cells and the subsidiary cells. These cells generally maintain a chemical balance in the nose, which allows the nerve cells to send smell signals to the brain. 

A Contradicting study published by a team from Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland resulted that the olfactory neurons did not pose any ACE2 receptors, implying that the novel virus cant infect the cells themselves. 

It was also noticed that the timing of the onset of anosmia symptoms was varied, with some patients developing the symptoms at early stages, while another group of patients reported the loss of smell in the later stages of their illness. 

How will this help in the fight against COIVD-19?

More studies need to be conducted regarding the frequency of the symptoms and the exact science behind how the COVID-19 virus affects the olfactory senses. To collect more data on the cases posing these symptoms, the AOS-HNS Infectious Disease and Patient Safety Quality Improvement Committees have developed a COVID-19 anosmia detecting tool for health care workers. Using this tool the clinicians of all specialties will be able to confidently confirm cases portraying the loss of smell. 

The idea of adding the symptoms of unexplained anosmia as an official symptom of COVID-19 can help with earlier detection and isolation of potential carriers of the virus and improve safety by containing the spread of the virus.