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Associations between meteorology and COVID-19 in early studies: Inconsistencies, uncertainties, and recommendations.

Abstract

Meteorological variables, such as the ambient temperature and humidity, play a well-established role in the seasonal transmission of respiratory viruses and influenza in temperate climates. Since the onset of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a growing body of literature has attempted to characterize the sensitivity of COVID-19 to meteorological factors and thus understand how changes in the weather and seasonality may impede COVID-19 transmission. Here we select a subset of this literature, summarize the diversity in these studies' scopes and methodologies, and show the lack of consensus in their conclusions on the roles of temperature, humidity, and other meteorological factors on COVID-19 transmission dynamics. We discuss how several aspects of studies' methodologies may challenge direct comparisons across studies and inflate the importance of meteorological factors on COVID-19 transmission. We further comment on outstanding challenges for this area of research and how future studies might overcome them by carefully considering robust modeling approaches, adjusting for mediating and covariate effects, and choosing appropriate scales of analysis.

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