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Seasonal variation in SARS-CoV-2 transmission in temperate climates

By Tomas Gavenciak, Joshua Teperowski Monrad, Gavin Leech, Mrinank Sharma, Sören Mindermann, Jan Markus Brauner, Samir Bhatt, Jan Kulveit

Posted 13 Jun 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.10.21258647

While seasonal variation has a known influence on the transmission of several respiratory viral infections, its role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission remains unclear. As previous analyses have not accounted for the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the first year of the pandemic, they may yield biased estimates of seasonal effects. Building on two state-of-the-art observational models and datasets, we adapt a fully Bayesian method for estimating the association between seasonality and transmission in 143 temperate European regions. We find strong seasonal patterns, consistent with a reduction in the time-variable Rt of 42.1% (95% CI: 24.7% - 53.4%) from the peak of winter to the peak of summer. These results imply that the seasonality of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is comparable in magnitude to the most effective individual NPIs but less than the combined effect of multiple interventions.

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