Covid: Does pollution boost the spread of coronavirus?

Published by Caroline J. · Published on 9 March 2021 at 11h58 · Updated on 9 March 2021 at 15h10
Could Covid-19 spread more in the event of local air pollution? This is the hypothesis raised by several researchers trying to determine the part of fine particles in the spread and transmission of the virus. Let us explain.

Does air pollution play a key part in the spread of coronavirus? This is a study carried out by several researchers. They try to find if fine particles are likely to worsen the spread of Covid-19.

To do so, they went over several countries at different times of the coronavirus pandemic with a fine-tooth comb: the United States of America, China, Italy, Spain. Results were decisive: every single episode of local air pollution with fine particles has been followed by a strong increase in Covid-19 cases.

Epidemiologist Antoine Flahault seems to share the same mind, as he stated in Le Monde newspaper. “The part of high concentrations of fine particles in the air could be one of the most determining factors as much in the spread as the seriousness of Covid-19. Whether they are of natural origin, like desert sand, or anthropic, fine particles are associated with transmissible respiratory disease epidemic resurgences, including Covid-19”, he explained.

How to explain it? According to specialists, two hypotheses seem to stand out. The first one consists in saying these fine particles – that might penetrate in one’s body more easily when one breathes – are used to carry the virus. The second one says one’s organism is fragilized during these air pollution episodes, and therefore easier to infect.

The World Health Organization remains cautious for the time being and does not come down for making a link between the air pollution with fine particles and the spread of virus.

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