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How the pandemic might play out in 2021 and beyond

Nature – This coronavirus is here for the long haul – here’s what scientists predict for the next months and years. “…It is clear now that summer does not uniformly stop the virus, but warm weather might make it easier to contain in temperate regions. In areas that will get colder in the second half of 2020, experts think there is likely to be an increase in transmission. Many human respiratory viruses — influenza, other human coronaviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — follow seasonal oscillations that lead to winter outbreaks, so it is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will follow suit. “I expect SARS-CoV-2 infection rate, and also potentially disease outcome, to be worse in the winter,” says Akiko Iwasaki, an immunobiologist at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Evidence suggests that dry winter air improves the stability and transmission of respiratory viruses, and respiratory-tract immune defence might be impaired by inhaling dry air, she adds. In addition, in colder weather people are more likely to stay indoors, where virus transmission through droplets is a bigger risk, says Richard Neher, a computational biologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Simulations by Neher’s group show that seasonal variation is likely to affect the virus’s spread and might make containment in the Northern Hemisphere this winter more difficult…”

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