Coronavirus caused cinemas, leisure centres, gyms and nightclubs to shut their doors. A new test investigates how the virus reacts to seasons. Will life return to normal in summer?
Physicist Saveez Saffarian, University of Utah, stated: “The physics of how the droplets evolve in different temperature and humidity conditions affect how infectious [the virus] is.”
Alongside physicist Michael Vershinin, Saffarian has received around £172,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study how the virus’s protective outer shell responds to changes in heat and humidity.
Vershinin explained: “We’re making a faithful replica of the virus packaging that holds everything together.
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“The idea is to figure out what makes this virus fall apart, what makes it tick, what makes it die.”
The research also aims to figure out if summer will help slow the spread of the disease.
SARS-CoV-2 – the name of the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 – spreads very similarly to the influenza virus.
The contagious diseases are spread through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes.
Back to the groundbreaking research, Saffarian and Vershinin will be working with dummy versions of the virus’s protective outer shell.
The synthetic shells will be informed by the sequenced genome of SARS-CoV-2.
However, there will be no viral genomes inside the dummy shells.
This will ensure the shells aren’t infectious and are safe to work with.
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The researchers hope to explore how well the virus will transmit in different conditions, including in the summer heat.
Results could potentially influence how long social distancing and lockdown policies are enforced for within the UK.
Vershinin noted: “This is not a vaccine. It won’t solve the crisis, but it will hopefully inform policy decisions going forward.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson updated the public on Friday March 20 about the UK’s latest stance on the pandemic.
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Boris Johnson said: “We need to push down further on that curve of transmission.”
In order to do so, pubs, bars and restaurants are now closed.
However, restaurants “can continue to provide takeout services”.
Additionally, leisure centres, gyms, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs have also shut their doors.
Boris Johnson continued: “Physically, we need to keep people apart.”
The Prime Minister said the situation will be reviewed on a monthly basis as to whether any measures can be relaxed.
With April fast approaching, will this only be a temporary situation?
He concluded: “Stay at home to protect our NHS and saves lives.”
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