Climate and the spread of COVID-19

Chen, Simiao and Prettner, Klaus ORCID: and Kuhn, Michael and Geldsetzer, Pascal and Wang, Chen and Bärnighausen, Till and Bloom, David E. (2021) Climate and the spread of COVID-19. Scientific Reports, 11 (9042). ISSN 2045-2322

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Visual inspection of world maps shows that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is less prevalent in countries closer to the equator, where heat and humidity tend to be higher. Scientists disagree how to interpret this observation because the relationship between COVID-19 and climatic conditions may be confounded by many factors. We regress the logarithm of confirmed COVID-19 cases per million inhabitants in a country against the country’s distance from the equator, controlling for key confounding factors: air travel, vehicle concentration, urbanization, COVID-19 testing intensity, cell phone usage, income, old-age dependency ratio, and health expenditure. A one-degree increase in absolute latitude is associated with a 4.3% increase in cases per million inhabitants as of January 9, 2021 (p value < 0.001). Our results imply that a country, which is located 1000 km closer to the equator, could expect 33% fewer cases per million inhabitants. Since the change in Earth’s angle towards the sun between equinox and solstice is about 23.5°, one could expect a difference in cases per million inhabitants of 64% between two hypothetical countries whose climates differ to a similar extent as two adjacent seasons. According to our results, countries are expected to see a decline in new COVID-19 cases during summer and a resurgence during winter. However, our results do not imply that the disease will vanish during summer or will not affect countries close to the equator. Rather, the higher temperatures and more intense UV radiation in summer are likely to support public health measures to contain SARS-CoV-2.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: SC was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Project INV-006261). TB was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation through the Alexander von Humboldt Professor award, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany. PG was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number KL2TR003143. DEB was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30AG024409 and by the Value of Vaccination Research Network (VoVRN) through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF Grant OPP1158136), United States. The study was also supported by funding from the European Union’s European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and Horizon 2020 research and innovation programmes, and the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion (Project C-0048), which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily refect the views of the NIH, the VoVRN or the BMGF.
Divisions: Departments > Volkswirtschaft > Makroökonomie
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 03 May 2021 13:51
Last Modified: 06 May 2021 13:38
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