Sunday, September 6, 2020

Do COVID cases spike in cold weather?

Do COVID cases spike in cold weather? To answer this question, it may be instructive to look at COVID figures for Brazil and the US, because these two countries have had similar responses to the pandemic (); and have opposite weather patterns – when it is hot in the US, it is cold in Brazil, and vice-versa. This applies particularly to the most populous areas of the two countries.

At the time of this writing, we had the following approximate numbers for Brazil and the US. Brazil – population: 209.5 million, COVID cases: 4.12 million, and COVID deaths: 126 thousand. US – population: 328.2 million, COVID cases: 6.26 million, and COVID deaths: 188 thousand. The two graphs below show the two following ratios: cases-to-population, and deaths-to-population.

In the last several months since the pandemic hit both countries, it has been generally cold in Brazil and hot in the US. Given this, these ratios are too close to support the assumption that COVID cases spike in cold weather. So, a reasonable answer to the question posed in the title of this post is: probably not.

This brings to mind another question: would indoor activities, such as restaurant dining and movie theater attendance, lead to spikes in COVID cases?

Well, the idea was that cold weather would lead to more indoor activities ...

While risk of infection may go up with cold weather and indoor activities, people react in a compensatory way. This feedback loop may lead to unexpected results.