It’s a time of crisis. The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is gripping the world. At the moment we still know very little about this virus, which lives under several names. One thing we all hope is that the virus will disappear as quickly as it has spread around the world. According to Dutch politician Thierry Baudet, who leads the right-wing party ‘Forum voor Democratie’, the virus will die automatically when the weather outside gets better.
He makes this claim in an interview with the Dutch journalist Joost Niemoller. We investigated whether this statement is actually correct. This appears not to be the case. We investigated whether this statement is actually correct. This appears not to be the case.
Thierry Baudet made a striking statement in an interview with journalist Joost Niemoller: “We know that if the weather gets better, especially with the sea wind, a happy circumstance we have here, the virus will die.” But is this really the case? Does the Coronavirus die automatically when the weather gets better?
In the interview, Mr Baudet claims the Coronavirus will die on its own when the weather improves. This statement may look like a prediction, but he clearly says, “We know that…”. With the use of these words he implies that he is talking about facts that are supported by scientific research. No further source is mentioned to back up this claim. Mr. Baudet himself is not an expert in the field of virology, he studied law and is a politician. We first tried to contact Thierry Baudet through his party to ask on what source(s) he based his statement. The party did not respond to our request, so the sources he used to back up his statement cannot be verified.
Indeed, the common flu does not thrive as temperatures rises. This was shown seven years ago in an American study called “Environmental Predictors of Seasonal Influenza Epidemics across Temperate and Tropical Climates”. In this study it was shown that viral infections show a strongly seasonal cycle, with fewer infections occurring with rising temperatures and higher humidity in countries with a climate such as the Netherlands. In this case, the arrival of spring should therefore be beneficial for the decrease in the number of infections, but of course COVID-19 does not yet appear in this study. This research also shows that the viruses do not have to be completely gone when it gets warmer outside.
Virologist Ab Osterhaus, lecturer at the Erasmus University, tells Dutch news website Nu.nl the same thing. According to him, most viruses like Corona that lead to respiratory infections mainly exist in the winter months. This doesn’t say the Coronavirus will behave the same way, but Osterhaus thinks it is highly likely. He confirms that human behaviour could have an impact on the spread of the disease, because people will be closer together in buildings during colder months.
Comparing the statements of these three experts and the study, one can see a clear pattern. Viruses similar to COVID-19 do not thrive particularly well as the temperature and the humidity rise. However, this doesn’t mean the virus will disappear in its entirety. People could still get infected and it’s not clear whether COVID-19 will behave the same as the viruses it is compared to. Also, warmer places like Sint Maarten still have to deal with the consequences of the virus. That shows that the virus is still active when it is hotter outside.
For this reasons Baudets statement, “The virus will die automatically when the weather outside gets better”, is labelled as ‘Largely False’. It is correct the virus will most likely become less infectious as the days grow warmer, but scientific research clearly shows the virus will not completely disappear.