With cities around the globe locking down yet again amid soaring COVID-19 numbers, could seasonality be partially to blame? New research from the University of Illinois says yes.
In a paper published in Evolutionary Bioinformatics, Illinois researchers show COVID-19 cases and mortality rates, among other epidemiological metrics, are significantly correlated with temperature and latitude across 221 countries.
“One conclusion is that the disease may be seasonal, like the flu. This is very relevant to what we should expect from now on after the vaccine controls these first waves of COVID-19,” says Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, professor in the Department of Crop Sciences, affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois, and senior author on the paper.
The seasonal nature of viral diseases is so widespread that it has become part of the English vernacular. For example, we often speak of the “flu season” to describe the higher incidence of influenza during the cold winter months. Early in the pandemic, researchers and public health officials suggested SARS-CoV-2 may behave like other coronaviruses, many of which rear their heads in fall and winter. But data was lacking, especially on the global scale. The work of Caetano-Anollés and his students fills that specific knowledge gap….
But of course it has nothing to do with sunshine exposure and vitamin D. That would be too easy. It must have to do with weather-related difficulties in getting to the doctor’s office for your regular dose of toxic potions and injections.