Second wave of coronavirus 'may not come in winter – but could arrive in spring'

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Man putting on face shield on street of city or public park. Safety during COVID-19 outbreak. Lifting virus lockdown. Social distancing and face mask - security measures when exiting quarantine.
A second wave of COVID-19 may come later than expected. (Getty)

Predictions of a second wave of coronavirus arriving alongside the onset of the cold winter months could be wrong, a scientist has warned.

Professor Ben Neuman, chairman of biological sciences at Texas A&M University-Texarkana and visiting associate professor at University of Reading, said that coronaviruses typically “peak” in spring.

Predictions around coronavirus tend to lean too heavily on the influenza virus, which peaks in winter, but that most viruses are not as strictly seasonal as the flu, he said.

Neuman said that some viruses normally peak in spring, including most coronaviruses, and others peak in summer or autumn, like poliovirus.

Read more: Government insists coronavirus pandemic is “not out of control”

The scientist added that simply moving indoors may not drive up coronavirus infections, as the winter months lead to a sort of voluntary self-isolation.

Neuman said: “The move indoors for the winter may not be likely to drive up COVID-19 numbers on its own.

“A cold winter can bring on its own mini-quarantine, as we stay home to avoid bad weather, and comes with a bit of natural PPE in the form of scarves and gloves.

"Instead, look for changes in behaviour that lead to mixing of people from different households, especially where masks would not be worn, as a potential source of COVID-19 – school reopenings, dinner parties, restaurants.”

Neuman also warned that the start of “flu season” could lead to a surge in negative tests, as people with flu seek coronavirus tests.

Read more: Hundreds told to self isolate after outbreak at charity football game

He said: “A possible side-effect of flu and COVID-19 season is that since both diseases start off with similar symptoms, more people will be ill enough to seek COVID-19 testing.

“Paradoxically, an influx of people with the flu seeking COVID-19 tests could potentially drive down the percentage of positive tests, which would then misleadingly suggest that COVID-19 was decreasing.

“That is one reason why percent positive rates should not be taken in isolation to monitor the pandemic.”

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