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BACKGROUND: It is unknown if COVID-19 will exhibit seasonal pattern as other diseases e.g., seasonal influenza. Similarly, some environmental factors (e.g., temperature, humidity) have been shown to be associated with transmission of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but global data on their association with COVID-19 are scarce. OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between climatic factors and COVID-19. METHODS: We used multilevel mixed-effects (two-level random-intercepts) negative binomial regression models to examine the association between 7- and 14-day-lagged temperature, humidity (relative and absolute), wind speed and UV index and COVID-19 cases, adjusting for Gross Domestic Products, Global Health Security Index, cloud cover (%), precipitation (mm), sea-level air-pressure (mb), and daytime length. The effects estimates are reported as adjusted rate ratio (aRR) and their corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI). RESULTS: Data from 206 countries/regions (until April 20, 2020) with ≥100 reported cases showed no association between COVID-19 cases and 7-day-lagged temperature, relative humidity, UV index, and wind speed, after adjusting for potential confounders, but a positive association with 14-day-lagged temperature and a negative association with 14-day-lagged wind speed. Compared to an absolute humidity of <5 g/m3, an absolute humidity of 5-10 g/m3 was associated with a 23% (95% CI: 6-42%) higher rate of COVID-19 cases, while absolute humidity >10 g/m3 did not have a significant effect. These findings were robust in the 14-day-lagged analysis. CONCLUSION: Our results of higher COVID-19 cases (through April 20) at absolute humidity of 5-10 g/m3 may be suggestive of a 'sweet point' for viral transmission, however only controlled laboratory experiments can decisively prove it.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.envres.2020.110355

Type

Journal article

Journal

Environ Res

Publication Date

28/10/2020

Keywords

COVID-19, Climatic factors, Humidity, Meteorological factors, SARS-CoV-2, Temperature