Coronavirus: High levels of particulate matter can influence the severity of Covid-19 infection, finds study

By: |
November 28, 2020 3:31 PM

Studies conducted on the Covid-situation in Italy and France suggest the virus was present in the air even by the end of 2019 but the sharp increase in number was recorded only during the spring of 2020.

coronavirus, covid-19, particulate matter, pollution linked to covid, coronavirus research, covid in France, covid in switzerlandA study finds when the air has a high concentration of PM.2.5, the severity of a viral infection increases. (IE Image)

The association of pollution with Covid-19 is no longer limited to people with co-morbidities or respiratory problems. Now a new study based on SARS-CoV-2 contamination has found that a high concentration of fine particulate matter can amplify the Covid wave, causing an increasing number of positive cases.

The study by the University of Geneva and Meteodat, published in the journal of Earth Systems and Environment, establishes that when the air has a high concentration of PM.2.5, the severity of a viral infection increases. The study also brings to the table the preventive measures that the authorities should take to prevent air pollution to control an outbreak of severe illness or deaths due to Coronavirus.

Drop-in air temperature causes thermal inversion that favours the fine particulate matter to stay near the ground surface trapped under the dense cold air. Such winter inversion also increases condensation of moisture causing fog. Studies conducted on the Covid-situation in Italy and France suggest the virus was present in the air even by the end of 2019 but the sharp increase in number was recorded only during the spring of 2020. Hence these findings suggest not just social interactions there are other means of transmission of the virus and particularly the severity of the infection.

The research team further studied the rise in cases in the Swiss canton of Ticino where a sharp increase in Covid cases was recorded, with more hospital admissions shortly afterwards, the pollution level shot during the end of February 2020. A large carnival event attended by 150, 000 visitors was also instrumental in the spike in the spread of the infection.

In Switzerland during thermal inversion, the fine particulate matter in air shoots causing inflammation of the respiratory tract, cardiovascular tract and pulmonary infections. In such circumstances, if a person gets infected with Covid-19, a serious progression of the disease was noticed, the researchers found out.

In October, a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Research found that 15 per cent of deaths worldwide linked to Covid-19 is also because of long-term exposure to air pollution. According to the authors of the study, PM 2.5 migrate from lungs to the bloodstream causing inflammation; they also damage the inner lining of arteries leading to stiffening of arteries, making it easier for Covid-19 to cause further damage to the respiratory system.

The current study although hold pollution responsible for increasing the severity of the virus and disease progression, researchers also acknowledged the social, economic, and physiological factors that had influenced the spread of the pandemic. They conclude the study wants to bring the spotlight on the need for measures to control the concentration of particulate matter in the air to curb a new flare-up of covid-related mortality.

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