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




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.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Scientific Reports
Citation Index SCI
Language English
Title Climate and the spread of COVID-19
Volume 11
Number 9042
Year 2021
Reviewed? Y
URL https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-87692-z
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87692-z
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-87692-z#citeas


Prettner, Klaus (Details)
Bärnighausen, Till (University of Heidelberg, Germany)
Bloom, David E. (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, United States/USA)
Chen, Simiao (University of Heidelberg, Germany)
Geldsetzer, Pascal (Stanford University, United States/USA)
Kuhn, Michael (IIASA, Austria)
Wang, Chen (Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, China)
Department of Economics (Crespo Cuaresma) (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
3911 Economics of the health system (Details)
5371 Macroeconomics (Details)
5404 Demography (Details)
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