Health and Medicine

COVID Sure Looks Seasonal Now

By Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic

After two years of pandemic waves, we’re finally learning whether the disease has a predictable schedule.

The first part of what may be the first epidemiologic text ever written begins like so: “Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus: in the first place to consider the seasons of the year.”

The book is On Airs, Waters, and Places, written by Hippocrates around 400 B.C. Two and a half millennia later, the Northern Hemisphere is staring down its coming season of the year with growing apprehension. America’s grimmest phase of the coronavirus pandemic so far occurred from November 2020 to February 2021. Now the calendar has turned to a new November, and even though the majority of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, cases are once again, horrifyingly, on the rise.

If Hippocrates was right, we could be doomed to repeat the sickness and death that defined last winter. To be fair, Hippocrates also thought that among the most important factors in anyone’s health was their balance of black and yellow bile. But evidence is piling up that COVID really is a seasonal disease, surging with the weather and the annual rhythms of human life. If that’s the case, then understanding those seasonal patterns could help us predict where the virus is headed next, and address its attacks in advance.

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