Temperature and Latitude Correlate with SARS-CoV-2 Epidemiological Variables but not with Genomic Change Worldwide

Prakruthi Burra, Katiria Soto-Díaz, Izan Chalen, Rafael Jaime Gonzalez-Ricon, Dave Istanto, Gustavo Caetano-Anollés

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease has spread quickly and massively around the entire globe, causing millions of confirmed cases and deaths worldwide. The disease poses a serious ongoing threat to public health. This study aims to understand the disease potential of the virus in different regions by studying how average spring temperature and its strong predictor, latitude, affect epidemiological variables such as disease incidence, mortality, recovery cases, active cases, testing rate, and hospitalization. We also seek to understand the association of temperature and geographic coordinates with viral genomics. Epidemiological data along with temperature, latitude, longitude, and preparedness index were collected for different countries and US states during the early stages of the pandemic. Our worldwide epidemiological analysis showed a significant correlation between temperature and incidence, mortality, recovery cases and active cases. The same tendency was found with latitude, but not with longitude. In the US, we observed no correlation between temperature or latitude and epidemiological variables. Interestingly, longitude was correlated with incidence, mortality, active cases, and hospitalization. An analysis of mutational change and mutational change per time in 55 453 aligned SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences revealed these parameters were uncorrelated with temperature and geographic coordinates. The epidemiological trends we observed worldwide suggest a seasonal effect for the disease that is not directly controlled by the genomic makeup of the virus. Future studies will need to determine if correlations are more likely the result of effects associated with the environment or the innate immunity of the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1176934321989695
JournalEvolutionary Bioinformatics
StatePublished - Jan 26 2021


  • SARS-CoV-2
  • active cases
  • testing rate
  • hospitalization
  • genome analysis
  • mutation
  • recovery patients
  • mortality
  • incidence
  • COVID-19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Computer Science Applications


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