Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Researchers are consistently claiming Summer humidity impedes the transmission of Covid-19. But some humid tropical countries like Singapore have as much difficulty controlling the spread of Covid as the rest of us.
Could high humidity slow the spread of COVID-19?
Emergency room physician Jeff Gusky spreads the message that high humidity could slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In the small sanctuary of Starlight Bethel Missionary Church in South Dallas, emergency room physician Jeff Gusky stands before a handful of listeners.
“It’s the humidity, stupid!” Dr. Gusky says.
“It’s accepted that many viruses spread during the winter when the air is dry. COVID-19 is a virus,” Gusky tells his audience.
Data linking the spread of the flu to dry indoor air has been around for years, including in the decade-old study, “Absolute Humidity and the Seasonal Outbreak of Influenza in the Continental United States” by Dr. Jeffrey Shaman.
In June, a group in Australia published a study linking dry air to the spread of the coronavirus there. The study compared 749 cases of COVID-19 to relative humidity. It found that with every 1% decrease in humidity, coronavirus cases increased 6%.
…Read more: https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/could-high-humidity-slow-spread-coronavirus/287-6aa63537-1ed7-47ef-baa4-64716d29c730
The abstract of the Australian study;
The role of climate during the COVID‐19 epidemic in New South Wales, Australia
Previous research has identified a relationship between climate and occurrence of SARS‐CoV and MERS‐CoV cases, information that can be used to reduce the risk of infection. Using COVID‐19 notification and postcode data from New South Wales, Australia during the exponential phase of the epidemic in 2020, we used time series analysis to investigate the relationship between 749 cases of locally acquired COVID‐19 and daily rainfall, 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. temperature, and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. relative humidity. Lower 9 a.m. relative humidity (but not rainfall or temperature) was associated with increased case occurrence; a reduction in relative humidity of 1% was predicted to be associated with an increase of COVID‐19 cases by 6.11%. During periods of low relative humidity, the public health system should anticipate an increased number of COVID‐19 cases.Read more: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tbed.13631
The tropical city state Singapore has had a difficult time controlling the spread of Covid-19, though they have a surprisingly low death rate according to official figures – only 26 deaths to date. According to Straits Times, Singapore uses Remdesivir to treat Covid patients.
Singapore’s difficulties with Covid could be due to factors which interfere with realisation of the potential benefits of Singapore’s tropical humidity. Singaporeans spend a lot of time indoors in air conditioned comfort, they take their air conditioning very seriously.
Lee Kuan Yew, founder of modern Singapore, once said:
Question: Anything else besides multicultural tolerance that enabled Singapore’s success?
Answer: Air conditioning. Air conditioning was a most important invention for us, perhaps one of the signal inventions of history. It changed the nature of civilization by making development possible in the tropics.
Without air conditioning you can work only in the cool early-morning hours or at dusk. The first thing I did upon becoming prime minister was to install air conditioners in buildings where the civil service worked. This was key to public efficiency.Read more: https://www.vox.com/2015/3/23/8278085/singapore-lee-kuan-yew-air-conditioning
I am not disputing claims that humidity impedes the spread of Covid-19, but clearly there are other important factors.