SARS-CoV-2 has become the greatest pandemic of the recent century and its rapid spread has brought the whole human kind to a standstill. It has affected humans of every age and ethnicity around the globe. The characteristics of this pandemic has made it very difficult or even say impossible for even the advanced health systems of the world to control it after it started in China in 2019. Alone in Pakistan, this virus has affected more than 756 thousand people and killed more than 16 thousand people till date. With the emergence of third wave of this pandemic, many questions have also emerged in the minds of general public which are important and needs to be addressed. The major question that has been revolving around is that whether the temperature has any effect or fluctuations can kill the Covid 19 virus or not? Summers are about to start and people tend to believe that heat can kill the virus and therefore are getting tentatively less cautious.
Researchers in the different institutions of the world has found that ambient temperature changes have no effect whatsoever on the transmission of this virus. Before understanding why, the temperature is not affecting the virus, it is important to know about spike proteins. It is because of the presence of spike proteins that this virus can penetrate host cell and cause infection. In parasitic world, bacterial and fungal pathogen can survive on its own and do not need a host cell to cause infection. But it is not true in case of viruses. They need to penetrate host cell in order to replicate by using cell’s own machinery and spread viral particles around the body. Now the defense mechanism of the body against such intruders is the outer membrane of the cells which is composed of fatty layer which holds all enzymes, proteins and DNA. Due to the biochemical nature, the outer layer of the cell is always negatively charged and also repellent. Viruses have to gain access to this layer and then infiltrate this layer to gain entrance into the cell to cause infection. The corona-viruses are surrounded and covered by a fatty layer which is commonly called as envelope and this envelope use proteins to fuse into the membrane of the body because of this fatty layer resemblance. The spike proteins are such proteins which help coronaviruses to fuse and get into the host cell to cause infection.
The spike proteins denatured at 50-degree Celsius and the internal body temperature of human beings remain 37-degrees regardless of the outside temperature. Therefore, scientists have deduced that slight temperature fluctuation do not affect SARS-CoV-2 particle interaction with the epithelial cells of the body. It is important to note that experimentations have proved that temperature changes from 4 to 40-degree Celsius has no effect on the spike protein binding domain structural stability. It was also showed in the experiments that by increasing the temperature one can prevent the airborne transmission but could not stop contact transmission. As the risk of contact transmission is much more in South Asian region as compared to Europe, therefore the risk of getting affected from the virus is more in this region.
Although it is noteworthy that scientist do suggest the rate of case or infection of SARS-CoV-2 in summer is relatively less as compared to cold weather because of the decline of annual flu rates among masses. The new findings have revealed that the transmission of this virus entirely depends upon the behavior of human beings. Taking trips and being away from home for longer periods of time has proved to be the major factor for its transmission. The other two major factor include population and urban density. As Pakistan is already suffering from overpopulation and greater urban density, that is why it is every easy for its people to get affected by this virus. The proverb that can be used in case of Pakistan is Prevention is better than cure. We have to take care of ourselves by using face masks and maintaining social distancing measures and not getting out of our houses without any cause. Prevention against such a deadly disease is the only way to protect yourself and your loved ones in this hour of pandemic.
- Stanam, A., Chaudhari, M., & Rayudu, D. (2020). Effects of temperature on COVID-19 transmission. Medrxiv.
- Ujiie, M., Tsuzuki, S., & Ohmagari, N. (2020). Effect of temperature on the infectivity of COVID-19. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 95, 301-303.
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