New research shows transmission of the virus behind COVID-19 varies seasonally, but warmer conditions are not enough to prevent transmission.

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The study, led by Imperial College London researchers and published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to incorporate environmental data into epidemiological models of the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19.

The team show that temperature and population density are the most important factors determining how easily the virus spreads, but only in the absence of mobility-restricting measures, such as lockdowns.

First author of the study Dr Tom Smith, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: “Our results show that temperature changes have a much smaller effect on transmission than policy interventions, so while people remain unvaccinated, governments mustn’t drop policies like lockdowns and social distancing just because a seasonal change means the weather is warming up.

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