The link between infectious disease and climate

Jan. 3, 2023

In 2017, three years before the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, three Princeton researchers convened to investigate the links between infectious diseases and climate change.

There are major unanswered questions about how the spread of disease is impacted by  extreme weather events, climate migration, population demographics and density. Professors Jessica Metcalf, Bryan Grenfell and Gabe Vecchi joined forces to the explore some of these big, critical questions that require expertise from across disciplines – in demography, infectious disease, epidemiology and climate science. The researchers are investigating how humidity levels and a warmer atmosphere affect the transmission of respiratory diseases. They are working to understand how wetter storms impact the behavior and location of disease vectors like mosquitos, and other emerging research areas.

“We can predict the next pandemic – but it will require vast amounts of data and vast amounts of insight to manage this,” said Metcalf, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs and co-director of Program in Global Health and Health Policy at Princeton.

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