The Weather, South Asia, and coronavirus

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I have a post where I analyze the idea that weather has an effect on the spread of coronavirus. One thing to note is that the best models focus on absolute humidity. This means that coastal Karachi is much better placed than inland Lahore, because Lahore often has low humidity. Mumbai shouldn’t be well suited for the spread of coronavirus at any time of the year (absolute humidity too high).

The major confound here: air conditioning. This creates a bubble of low absolute humidity, so coronavirus could spread very well in these environments. If you believe these results, one might want to turn off air conditioning in offices.

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14 Replies to “The Weather, South Asia, and coronavirus”

  1. I have had far more seasonal coughs & colds in the last few years than I ever used to. One of the major things that has changed is that my employer switched to air conditioned open plan offices.

  2. If you believe these results, one might want to turn off air conditioning in offices.

    Most people in my sector (IT) are already working from home, so offices are almost empty (“critical” employees are allowed to be there for limited purposes.) This means AC is turned off in offices. And Indians (myself included) tend to minimize the use of AC at home (it’s our inbuilt instinct to save resources).

    Anyway, if this theory is correct, it’ll be proven by a massive natural experiment we are going to go through pretty soon. It’s already started to get hot in much of India (high temperatures are 35C or higher) and I know (from experience growing up) that places like Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa get very humid starting early April.

  3. Anecdotal evidence:
    I rarely got the flu when living in the US with my late wife Chandra. We had a cold water humidifier in the bedroom during winter and or heating kicked in. I would add Clorox once a week or so to keep the bacteria down and cleaned out about once in two weeks.

    Later living alone did not have a humidifier and would get the flu at least once or twice in the winter

    The theory being moist air does not dry out nasal passages. Then mucus in nasal passages somewhat block bacteria/virus.

    1. I lived in Los Angeles for most of a decade, a city that’s quite dry almost all year. Never got the flu, ever. Not even a cold. I got the flu once when I visited home (India) and once in Seattle, both in somewhat more humid conditions.

      I wonder if this varies from person to person? My personal experience is that humid climates induce sickness (in me at least) and dry climates are salubrious.

  4. Semi Related.

    People are being asked to remove clothes, and shower when coming home to reduce risk of Covid-19

    This advice about a shower we used to have as children.
    When we got caught to the first rains after a dry spell, we were asked to have a shower the moment we got home.

    Did not make sense at that time. Later read that the first rains bring down dust and attached bacteria and what not.
    So a shower washes and reduces risk of bacteria/virus contamination on your body/hair etc.

  5. A common practice growing up in India in the 60’s was to take off your shoes at the shoe stand which used to be right after you entered the house. Then wash your hands and feet, not necessarily with soap. This was regardless of what the season happened to be.

    1. Dude. There can be a lot of criticism of the government but don’t at least post an opinion piece by Shivam Vij. Lol.

  6. I read recently that London had 100,000 deaths – a quarter of its population, when plague struck in 1666. Black Death brought about a lot of social changes in Europe. I also wonder if the loss of life from plague also served as a mechanism of natural selection allowing Europeans to explore all latitudes of the globe, and eventually enabled them to dominate most of the globe.

    1. Natural selection that operated on just the city of London ? And so fast that within a hundred years the Brits (and half of Europe) acquired special exploring genes ?

      Who knows, Stranger things have happened.

      Actually they haven’t.

  7. Black death bought about a lot of social changes. Black death made labor expensive, so even youngsters could earn wage labor outside of home. Life cycle service i.e. living as servants in rich people’s homes or in working in apprenticeship guild provided reasonably good wages. Women began to work due to labor shortages and gained greater bargaining power with wage labor. Arranged marriage system gave way to love marriage as men and women began to work outside the home and were less dependent on their parents. Couples established their own household rather than living with the parents of the husband i.e. the system of patrilocality ended. Black death led to women’s empowerment. These social changes modernized the English society.

    In terms of economic changes, working as wage laborers became much more of a norm rather than working on one’s own farm, establishing a robust labor market. Expensive labor also provided some incentives to invest in labor saving technologies leading to some progress on that front.

    Possibly social modernization and some of the economic changes were necessary to set the stage for domination later

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