For Quick Alerts
For Daily Alerts

COVID-19: Air Pollution May Affect Coronavirus Lethality, Study Says

Scientists and health experts are steadily working on the cases of coronavirus, examining the origin, complications, triggers, developing a vaccine and so on. The extensive studies help provide a deeper understanding of the nature of the novel coronavirus, informing the public of its development, hence creating awareness on the issue.

Various studies are being conducted to understand the nature of the coronavirus, which in turn can help the health experts in the prevention and treatment of the disease. One such recent study, conducted by researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Siena in Italy has pointed out a link between air pollution and COVID-19 [1].

Are Cloth Masks And Surgical Masks Ineffective In Preventing Virus Spread?


Air Pollution And COVID-19 Death Rates

The study published in the journal Environmental Pollution asserted that there is a clear link between air pollution and death rates from COVID-19 [2]. With the coronavirus disease spreading at a rapid speed, researchers are at a lack of time to determine what affects its speed of transmission and how lethal it can be.

As of current understanding, factors such as underlying health conditions, a person's age, and their sex have been understood as factors that might affect the lethality of COVID-19 [3][4][5].

The link between coronavirus disease and air pollution has been something that has not been explored, causing the researchers in Italy to study the area to understand possible linking between the two.

The study solely focused on air pollution levels in Italy and was initiated upon understanding that the official figures from the Italian government showed a significant variation in the lethality of the virus, depending on geographic areas [6]. The official figures showed that the northern regions of Italy saw a lethality rate of 12 per cent whereas the rest of the country reported lethality rate was around 4.5 per cent.

The researchers linked these variations to the fatality rate of the coronavirus disease, pointing out that these ‘differences may be due to the way each region records deaths and infections or the fact that these two regions had relatively older populations' [7].

With the support of data from NASA Aura satellite and the European Environment Agency's Air Quality Index, the group of researchers were able to develop a clear and accurate picture of the relative air pollution in different geographic regions in relation to the COVID-19 cases [8][9].


Air Pollution, Immunity And COVID-19

On studying the link between air pollution and the coronavirus disease lethality, it was also pointed out that it does not state that one causes the other. In addition to the sole factor of air pollution, there are other factors that may link air pollution to the lethality of the coronavirus disease.

Studies have pointed out that diseases that result in acute respiratory distress syndrome, such as the coronavirus disease, attacks the immune system, causing immune system hyper-activation and hence resulting in inflammation [10][11].

It has also been pointed out that the length of exposure a person has to air pollution also has an effect on the inflammation caused in the body. Air pollution damages the cilia in the lungs, microscopic, hair-like organelles which acts as the defence against airborne infection [12].

The damage caused by air pollution can worsen infections, thereby risking the condition of individuals affected by the coronavirus.


On A Final Note…

The researchers believe that air pollution may contribute to the higher number of deaths from COVID-19, however, there is a need to carry out further research to determine the significance of air pollution so as to understand other factors that may affect the lethality of the coronavirus. Also, the current study was limited to that of Italy and has to be studied on a global perspective to assert any claims.