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Institute of Human Virology and Italian Researchers Find Higher Daily Temperatures Lead to a Decrease in COVID-19 Related Deaths

June 12, 2020 | Nora Samaranayake

(left to right) Francesca Benedetti, PhD, Davide Zella, PhD, and Robert Gallo, MD

Insights into population density and daily temperatures provide a path to public health strategies

The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a Global Virus Network (GVN) Center of Excellence, in collaboration with scientists from Campus Biomedico in Rome and Ulisse Biomed and University of Trieste, in Trieste, Italy announced today the results of studies showing an inverse correlation between average high daily temperatures and COVID-19 related death rates in different geographical areas.

By comparing data for the months of March and April 2020 in 25 regions in Europe and the U.S., the researchers observed that in March, when temperatures were uniform and lockdowns did not exist, there was no difference in the number of COVID-19 related deaths, while in April, when lockdown was implemented, there was a statistically significant correlation between average monthly high temperatures with reduced number of deaths per one million people. These data, which will be published by the Journal of Translational Medicine, suggest that social distancing measures are more successful in the presence of higher daily average temperatures in reducing the death rates of COVID-19.

“Correlating higher temperatures with COVID-19 related deaths is a step forward in better understanding how environmental factors can affect SARS-CoV-2,” said Davide Zella, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Data like these, expanded and confirmed, could potentially help in determining the many variables needed to tailor lockdown measures to different geographical areas.”

“Our data provide more understanding regarding the impact of daily temperatures and COVID-19 related death rates, and serves as a model that can advise economists and public health officials to target future regions at higher risk of COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Francesca Benedetti, PhD, Research Associate of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“This research is an extension of work done by IHV’s Mohammad Sajadi and Anthony Amoroso presented in March,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor, Co-founder & Director at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and Chairman of the International Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network (GVN).  “Scientists, including those within the Global Virus Network, will be able to expand upon these findings to help the private sector and government officials better prepare for future outbreaks, whether it’s SARS-CoV-2 or the next global threat.”

“We are pleased that our previous hypothesis linking cold weather and viral spread within the community has been confirmed by these new data,” said Mohammad Sajadi, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Sajadi, together with Anthony Amoroso, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, and Chief of Clinical Care Programs, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Associate Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland School of Medicine, proposed the hypothesis that distribution of COVID-19 along restricted latitude, temperature, and humidity was consistent with the behavior of a seasonal respiratory virus.  Dr. Sajadi and Dr. Amoroso are developing a real-time forecasting model of climate conditions that are favorable to the spread of COVID-19.

About the Institute of Human Virology

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Medical System, the IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology, and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, visit www.ihv.org and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.

Contact

Institute of Human Virology
Nora Samaranayake
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(410) 706-8614 (phone)
(410) 706-1952 (fax)
nsamaranayake@ihv.umaryland.edu

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