4 May 2020
A serious but very interesting problem has emerged in meat factories in many countries in the last few weeks, including the USA, Spain, and Ireland. For example, 40% of the workers at the Rosderra Meats plant in County Tipperary, Ireland, were off sick at the end of April, while in the USA more than 20 slaughterhouses have been forced to close because of Covid-related illness, and the choking of the supply chain has caused at least two million animals to be culled on farms.
This will be interpreted as showing that CoV-2 survives particularly well outside the body in those factory conditions, but another factor may be important. Workers in meat factories often stand still for long periods at 16°C or below, and it’s likely that they can become chilled. An observational study from 1997 that standing still outside for more than two minutes, and shivering outside, were both correlated with an increased chance of dying from respiratory illness. This danger is predicted by the TDVT hypothesis, because it says that virtually all respiratory viruses are more active at lower temperatures.
The TDVT Hypothesis, as explained by my friend Brian.
For a general discussion of the seasonality of respiratory viruses, written for the layperson, please see: Every winter, colds and flu increase