Top scientific experts do not believe that the new coronavirus, COVID-19, will go away in the U.S. as the weather warms up, they informed the White House in a letter on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump had previously claimed that as temperatures in the U.S. increase, COVID-19 “miraculously goes away.”
But the panel of experts from the National Academy of Sciences said that it is not yet clear if the virus’ spread will slow down in warmer weather, and added that changes in temperature may not make a difference when the majority of the country is not immune to COVID-19, CNN reported.
“There is some evidence to suggest that [coronavirus] may transmit less efficiently in environments with higher ambient temperature and humidity; however, given the lack of host immunity globally, this reduction in transmission efficiency may not lead to a significant reduction in disease spread without the concomitant adoption of major public health interventions,” the letter stated.
According to the panel, which includes experts from universities across the country, the currently available research found that the COVID-19 virus does not live as long in warmer temperatures. But, they said, the number of studies on the topic is minimal.
Plus, they added, several countries with warmer climates are still seeing a significant amount of cases.
“Given that countries currently in ‘summer’ climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed,” they said. “Given the lack of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] across the world, if there is an effect of temperature and humidity on transmission, it may not be as apparent as with other respiratory viruses for which there is at least some preexisiting partial immunity.”
The most promising hope for a slow in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Robert Norton, a professor of public health at Auburn University and member of several coronavirus task forces, previously told PEOPLE, are the stay-at-home orders that are keeping people from spreading the virus further.
Asked about the chance that COVID-19 will be gone by the summer, Norton said that “realistically, I think it’s going to be going well into summer in some areas.”
While the cities currently seeing major outbreaks, such as New York, may not have as many cases, “there will be some places where it’s still circulating, so it never really leaves,” and Norton expects the virus to become seasonal, like the flu.
The best hope is for greater immunity, and for the vaccines currently being researched.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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