Abstract: Background: Environmental factors play a central role in seasonal epidemics. SARS-CoV-2 infection in Spain has shown a heterogeneous geographical pattern This study aimed to assess the influence of several climatic factors on the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 and the severity of COVID-19 among the Spanish Autonomous Communities (AA.CC.).
Methods: Data on coronavirus infectivity and severity of COVID-19 disease, as well as the climatic variables were obtained from official sources (Ministry of Health and Spanish Meteorological Agency, respectively). To assess the possible influence of climate on the development of the disease, data on ultraviolet radiation (UVR) were collected during the months before the start of the pandemic. To analyze its influence on the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2, data on UVR, temperature, and humidity were obtained from the months of highest contagiousness to the peak of the pandemic.
Results: From October 2019 to January 2020, mean UVR was significantly related not only to SARS-CoV-2 infection (cumulative incidence -previous 14 days- × 105 habitants, rho = - 0.0,666; p = 0.009), but also with COVID-19 severity, assessed as hospital admissions (rho = - 0.626; p = 0.017) and ICU admissions (rho = - 0.565; p = 0.035). Besides, temperature (February: rho = - 0.832; p < 0.001 and March: rho = - 0.904; p < 0.001), was the main climatic factor responsible for the infectivity of the coronavirus and directly contributed to a different spread of SARS-CoV-2 across the Spanish regions.
Conclusions: Climatic factors may partially explain the differences in COVID-19 incidence and severity across the different Spanish regions. The knowledge of these factors could help to develop preventive and public health actions against upcoming outbreaks of the disease.
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