In this ever-warming climate, especially at a time where pestilence is prevalent, I began to wonder if there is a connection between climate change and disease, specifically the SARS-CoV-2 virus. You may know it as “COVID-19”. If there is a connection, hypothetical or actual, it would begin with planet temperature. Based on the National Institute of Health, the relationship between the virus’s lifespan is inversely related to the temperature. This means that higher temperatures would cause the virus to die expediently. However, a meteorologist named Jeff Masters, stated that prolongation of heated periods (heatwaves) cause people to stay inside of air condition spaces. Now, imagine that the average air-conditioned space has a mean temperature between 60-68˚F. This would enable more time for the virus to spread from person to person, in an indoor environment. Inversely, during the winter months individuals staying inside of heated spaces, would have the opposite effect.
In a paper authored by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. David Morens “We have entered a pandemic era”, the main premise is that pandemics are occurring, more often than not. The key highlighted causes persist with Wet-markets, deforestation, and urban-crowding. However, we know that disease spreads more quickly in the 21th century than that of the former. This may be due to commercial travel, in my opinion. It is my belief that commercial travel between countries enables viruses to not only spread but to mutate, causing variance. However, the true cause of variance may not be this simple.
“Epidemics of infectious diseases threaten individuals’ lives and cause major economic losses for society, and diseases sometimes emerge and re-emerge in unpredictable regions and at unpredictable times [6,7]. The introduction of potent antibiotics and vaccines into modern medicine in recent decades inspired an overly optimistic view of our ability to eliminate or even eradicate specific infectious diseases [4,7]. This perspective has now been changed by the realization that new emerging infectious disease threats continue to occur, and old infectious diseases continue to invade different communities”. (Hui-Yi yeh, Ko-Huang Chen, Know-tong Chen (2018)).
The emergence of virus strains in other parts of the world where they previously may not have existed may also be a problem. While I may have highlight human migration as a contributor, wildlife migration may present similar threats. The warming of the planet has caused animals to move to regions where they, have not previously existed. This introduces pathogens to regions in which the hosts have no built immunity. The truth is due to man-kinds alteration of the climate regions, may it be the deforestation due to infrastructure, we have created a climate ripe for emerging diseases.
Climate change may have an overlapping affect on CoVid-19 due to natural disasters. Regions hit by natural disasters have medical systems which take longer to recover. This is because resources become scarce when the whole country is affected. Puerto Rico, has dealt with Hurricane Maria, accompanied by several earthquakes a year. These disasters have caused major damage to infrastructure and have put a major strain on medical and economic resources. It is this reason why CovId-19 recovery in the country is prolonged. This has put Puerto Rico as a level 4 risk location to travelers and tourists. Whether indirect or direct, CoVID-19 is affected by climate change. Depending on the component of climate change you observe; It may have a negative or positive impact.
Rice, D. (2020, September 10). Scientists are seeing an ‘acceleration of pandemics’: They are looking at climate change. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/10/climate-change-covid-19-does-global-warming-fuel-pandemics/5749582002/.
Yeh, H.-Y., Chen, K.-H., & Chen, K.-T. (2018, June 6). Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease Transmission: A Focus on One Health Concept. International journal of environmental research and public health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025375/.
Abraham, J. P., Plourde, B. D., & Cheng, L. (2020, September). Using heat to kill SARS-CoV-2. Reviews in medical virology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7361064/#:~:text=%E2%80%A2%203%20minutes%20at%20temperature,140%C2%B0F).