370,000 deaths. 6,000,000 confirmed. 188 countries affected. The novel COVID-19 is leaving astonishing traces of deaths and illnesses as it rapidly encroaches upon our everyday lives. Schools are closed. Unemployment is surging. People experience dreadful losses of their family and friends. Luckily, however, the exponential curve of COVID-19 seems to have flattened within the past few weeks for many of the countries, and some even seem to have downward-sloping trends. So, should we feel relieved and expect the curve to hit 0 soon?
Is COVID-19 Going to Resurge in Winter 2021?
Unfortunately, the likely answer to this question is yes. Numerous scientists and experts around the world are warning us to beware of the impending disaster: the resurgence of COVID-19 in the winter.
Although they are different kinds of viruses, the coronavirus shares many similarities with the flu. They have similar symptoms—fever, body ache, and frequent coughing—and they also transmit in similar ways, such as through airborne droplets caused by coughing, sneezing, or even talking. Based on these similarities, scientists have theorized that, like the flu, COVID-19 will result in a higher transmission rate in the winter.
Why does the flu have a high transmission rate in the winter?
Why does the flu have a high transmission rate in the winter? Unlike the popular opinion, the flu is not caused by the low temperature in the winter. According to a research done at Harvard University, influenza viruses survive longer in cold and dry weather. When it is arid, the water vapor of airborne droplets decreases, resulting in a lighter mass, which makes the virus stay longer in the air, as opposed to the humid summer. Due to this longer survival time, they have a higher chance to invade our bodies. It is not the fact that our bodies become more susceptible to viruses in the winter; it is because viruses become stronger. Moreover, in the winter, due to a decrease in outdoor activities and shorter days, we don’t get exposed to sunlight as often as we did in the summer. This is critical as sunlight contains ultraviolet radiations, which are directly related to our production of Vitamin D, an organic molecule that limits the reproduction of viruses.
COVID-19: Will the virus hit us with a second wave this winter?
The idea of fatal viruses hitting us with a second wave is not new at all. In fact, the well-known 1918 Influenza pandemic—more commonly known as the Spanish flu—had multiple waves after its first appearance in the Spring: one in the fall, one in the winter, both much stronger than the first. It is not surprising for scientists to predict the same for COVID-19.
How strong will the second COVID-19 resurgence wave be?
The problem is how strong the second wave will be. There are varying opinions within this question. While some experts claim that the second wave will not be as strong as the first, many also argue that, like the Spanish flu, the second wave will be much more fatal. If the former proves to be the right one, that will be the best possible scenario (of course, not including the second wave not happening at all). If, however, the second wave turns out to be stronger, it will indeed be devastating. In the winter, if COVID-19 resurges, it will coincide with the flu. The flu itself takes away thousands of lives in the U.S. annually—when COVID-19 joins, it surely will be deadly. Furthermore, the U.S. and the entire world is already experiencing extreme economic damages; the prolonged recession is even comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s, experts claim. If a stronger second wave hits the world, it will become harder for us to return to our everyday lives.
Hope for COVID-19
There is still hope, however. Many experts hold that the treatments for COVID-19 are evolving. As time passes, the more experience we have with the virus, the more adept we will be in dealing with the virus, such as handling medical kits, testing COVID-19, and preparing available spots in hospitals. Not only are those in the medical field getting more used to the virus, but the general public also is. Practicing social distancing has been one of our priorities for the past few weeks. Many of us are now adjusted to the new lifestyle. It is, however, extremely easy for us to overlook the importance of social distancing as we become more and more used it. In order to maintain our downward-sloping curve, and in order to effectively reduce the impact of the impending second wave, it is crucial for us to not lose the grip of social distancing and to stay aware of the virus. After all, as long as we keep the 6 feet distance, deadly droplets of the virus would be much less able to reach another person, even in the winter.
Beaubien, Jason. “Will Summer Slow the Spread of COVID-19? Scientists Try to Figure It out.” NPR, 9 Apr. 2020, http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/09/830297538/scientists-try-to-figure-out-if-summer-will-slow-the-spread-of-covid-19. Accessed 30 May 2020.
Brown, Megan N. “Scientists Say COVID-19 Might Come Back Again Soon – Here’s What to Expect.” Good Px, 9 Apr. 2020, http://www.goodrx.com/blog/will-coronavirus-return-again-in-fall-winter-2021-and-beyond/. Accessed 30 May 2020.
Foster, Hannah. “The Reason for the Season: Why Flu Strikes in Winter.” Harvard University, 1 Dec. 2014, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/the-reason-for-the-season-why-flu-strikes-in-winter/. Accessed 30 May 2020.
Hewings-Martin, Yella. “Why Do Colds and Flu Strike in Winter?” Medical News Today, 17 Nov. 2017, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320099. Accessed 30 May 2020.
Maragakis, Lisa Lockerd. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vs. the Flu.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 30 Mar. 2020, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu. Accessed 30 May 2020.
“New Cases of COVID-19 in World Countries.” Johns Hopkins University, coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases. Accessed 30 May 2020.
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