Drivers of infectious disease seasonality: potential implications for COVID-19

Kronfeld-Schor, N., Stevenson, T., Nickbakhsh, S. , Schernhammer, E., Dopico, X., Dayan, T., Martinez, M. and Helm, B. (2021) Drivers of infectious disease seasonality: potential implications for COVID-19. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 36(1), pp. 35-54. (doi: 10.1177/0748730420987322) (PMID:33491541) (PMCID:PMC7924107)

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Not 1 year has passed since the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Since its emergence, great uncertainty has surrounded the potential for COVID-19 to establish as a seasonally recurrent disease. Many infectious diseases, including endemic human coronaviruses, vary across the year. They show a wide range of seasonal waveforms, timing (phase), and amplitudes, which differ depending on the geographical region. Drivers of such patterns are predominantly studied from an epidemiological perspective with a focus on weather and behavior, but complementary insights emerge from physiological studies of seasonality in animals, including humans. Thus, we take a multidisciplinary approach to integrate knowledge from usually distinct fields. First, we review epidemiological evidence of environmental and behavioral drivers of infectious disease seasonality. Subsequently, we take a chronobiological perspective and discuss within-host changes that may affect susceptibility, morbidity, and mortality from infectious diseases. Based on photoperiodic, circannual, and comparative human data, we not only identify promising future avenues but also highlight the need for further studies in animal models. Our preliminary assessment is that host immune seasonality warrants evaluation alongside weather and human behavior as factors that may contribute to COVID-19 seasonality, and that the relative importance of these drivers requires further investigation. A major challenge to predicting seasonality of infectious diseases are rapid, human-induced changes in the hitherto predictable seasonality of our planet, whose influence we review in a final outlook section. We conclude that a proactive multidisciplinary approach is warranted to predict, mitigate, and prevent seasonal infectious diseases in our complex, changing human-earth system.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Nickbakhsh, Dr Sema and Helm, Dr Barbara
Authors: Kronfeld-Schor, N., Stevenson, T., Nickbakhsh, S., Schernhammer, E., Dopico, X., Dayan, T., Martinez, M., and Helm, B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Journal of Biological Rhythms
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1552-4531
Published Online:24 January 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Biological Rhythms 36(1):35-54
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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