How does temperature affect COVID-19?

CIKD | Updated: 2020-05-07 11:42

It is important to note that the information provided in this Series is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

Spring scene of the Summer Palace in Beijing, Mar 17, 2020.[Photo/Xinhua]

In 2003, SARS died down as summer came in China, and this makes many people wonder if COVID-19 will disappear in the summer as well. However, this is no conclusive evidence on the effect of temperature on COVID-19 yet. Based on the latest research findings, high temperatures might hinder the transmission of the novel coronavirus but will not completely kill it.

First of all, the current global outbreak of COVID-19 has shown that high temperatures will not stop the transmission, as COVID-19 has already spread to countries with higher temperatures, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and nearly all African countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) had also made the assessment that COVID-19 could spread to regions with high temperatures and humidity.

Secondly, high temperatures could hinder the transmission of COVID-19, but there is no conclusive proof yet. A recent paper published by a team from the University of Maryland showed that South Korea, Iran, Italy, and the city of Wuhan, places that were more severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, have similar temperature and humidity, and this kind of climate might be more conducive to the transmission of COVID-19. [1] Conversely, as temperature increases, the transmission of the virus could slow down. However, some experts pointed out that there are still many uncertainties associated with COVID-19, and the conclusions based on geographical data may not be entirely reliable.

Lastly, people should not expect the COVID-19 pandemic to disappear in the summer. Many public health experts, including the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Program Mike Ryan, have warned against the idea of COVID-19 disappearing naturally in the summer and urged countries to continue fight against the pandemic. Some other experts also argued that even if summer stops the transmission of COVID-19 in some countries due to their different climates, the virus could still spread in the cold regions and lead to further outbreaks in next winter.


[1] Sajadi, Mohammad M. and Habibzadeh, Parham and Vintzileos, Augustin and Shokouhi, Shervin and Miralles-Wilhelm, Fernando and Amoroso, Anthony, Temperature, Humidity and Latitude Analysis to Predict Potential Spread and Seasonality for COVID-19 (March 5, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Author: Liu Chen,Center for International Knowledge on Development

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