Like flu , can COVID-19 evolve to wax and wane with the seasons? New research indicates it could.
Early at the pandemic, several experts indicated that SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that leads to COVID-19 — may act as some other coronaviruses which circulate widely in winter and autumn.
To discover whether this could be accurate, researchers examined COVID-19 information — such as instances, passing rates, recoveries, testing prices and hospitalizations — out of 221 nations. The researchers found a strong association with both fever and latitude.
“One conclusion is that the disorder could be seasonal, such as the flu. This is extremely related to what we ought to expect from today on following the vaccine controls those initial waves of COVID-19,” said senior study author Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. He’s a professor in the C.R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
The identical research team formerly identified regions from the SARS-CoV-2 virus genome undergoing rapid mutation.
Similar viruses have seasonal increases in mutation rates, so the investigators looked for links involving mutations in SARS-CoV-2 and temperature, latitude and longitude.
“Our results indicate the virus is altering in its own pace, and mutations are influenced by variables aside from fever or latitude. We do not know just what those variables are, but we are now able to say seasonal impacts are independent of the genetic makeup of the virus,” Caetano-Anollés stated in a university news release.
Additional study is necessary to find out more about how climate and distinct seasons can impact COVID-19 prices, the group included.
The study authors indicated that people’s immune systems can play a role. The immune system may be affected by temperature and nutrition, such as vitamin D, which has an significant role in immunity. With less sunlight exposure during winter, most individuals do not produce enough vitamin D.
“We all know the hay is seasonal, which we get a rest during the summer. This gives us a opportunity to construct the flu vaccine to the subsequent fall,” Caetano-Anollés said. “When we’re still in the middle of a raging pandemic, that fracture is nonexistent. Maybe learning how to enhance our immune system might help fight the illness as we fight to catch up with all the ever-changing coronavirus.”
The study was published online Jan. 26 in the journal Evolutionary Bioinformatics.