IS IT TRUE
In early February, U.S. President Donald Trump said the new coronavirus would disappear with rising temperatures. But the scientists immediately replied that it was impossible to know. And they still don’t have the answer.
Its resistance to heat has been tested in the laboratory, and above a certain temperature, SARS-CoV-2 (its small name) becomes much weaker. It supports the heat of our body, but beyond? “At 37 degrees, this virus becomes harmless in 24 to 48 hours and in only ten minutes when the temperature is 56 degrees,” explains Étienne Simon-Lorière, virologist at the Pasteur Institute, an organization specializing in the study of diseases and vaccines. So does that mean that this virus is less dangerous when the temperature rises outside? “These tests are done in the laboratory, that is not necessarily what happens in everyday life,” replies the virologist. And we are very far from spring or even summer temperatures.
Scientists like those at MIT, an American research institute, have noticed that this virus spreads faster in countries where the climate is temperate and not very humid. This means that temperatures may play a role. This is the case for some viruses, which are called “seasonal”. For example, the flu arrives in winter, when it is colder, and disappears when it starts to be sunny. “In summer, with the sun, there is more UV rays, and certain viruses, such as coronaviruses [the family to which SARS-CoV-2 belongs], are more fragile there,” explains Étienne Decroly, microbiologist and research director at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). In winter, our immune system is also more fragile, so viruses attack us more easily. And depending on the season, we don’t behave in the same way. In summer, we go out more, in winter, we stay more inside, we are more in contact with others. Result: we get more contaminated.
So we wonder if this new virus will behave the same way. Scientists also use what they already know about other coronaviruses to do their research. For example, the Sars-Cov that caused an epidemic in 2003 did not withstand high temperatures well. But that doesn’t mean that the Sars-CoV-2 will act the same way.