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Air pollution in cities like Delhi can carry the covid-19 virus, according to scientists

Updated on:13 August 2020, 18:05pm IST
Air pollution and covid-19 might just be correlated as more and more studies are showing how particulate matter in the air can transmit the virus.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Covid-19 and air pollution are a match made in hell. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Delhi and Mumbai have been topping the covid-19 chart for quite some time now. These cities also happen to be some of India’s most polluted cities. Now, you must be thinking what’s pollution got to do with covid-19. Well, it turns out researchers believe that air pollution plays a really big role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

This is no revelation because researchers have been talking about this possibility for some time now. According to them, the situation in highly-polluted cities can become very severe because both covid-19 and air pollution affects the respiratory system of a person.

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Research claims that covid-19 and air pollution are directly related
It all started in April 2020, when a study published in the journal Nature Public Health Emergency Collection first talked about the correlation between the two. This study pointed out how air pollution derails the immunity of the person, leaving the room open for a covid-19 infection.

covid-19 and air pollution
Particulate matter are the new covid-19 virus carriers. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Then another study published in the same month in the journal MedRxiv touted that covid-19 virus can survive on the particulate matter (PM) present in the air. This particulate matter works as a carrier for the virus, thus helping it travel further and spread easily. The same sentiment has been echoed by a Harvard Study as well. 

FYI, PM is a mix of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air.

The Harvard study observed more than 3,000 counties in the US and found that people living in areas which have high levels of pollution are more likely to die due to covid-19.

 “For every small increment in air pollution, there’s a substantial increase in death. You could pick any city in the world and expect to see an effect of air pollution on people’s risk of getting sicker from coronavirus,” said Aaron Bernstein, the director of the Center for Climate, Health and Global Environment at Harvard University.

Not just covid-19, but particulate matter acts as a carrier for other viruses as well
According to a study published in the journal BMC, viruses and bacteria are a component of PM and during any outbreak they can be found in the air. Viruses like SARS and H1N1, amongst others, have been detected in particulate matter in the past. 

covid-19 and air pollution
Pollution and covid-19 can make things worse in the future. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

For a country like India this correlation might prove to be fatal
In all probability, air pollution could be the reason why there are higher number covid-19 cases in Delhi and Mumbai. India has among the highest PM concentrations globally and in 2018, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has released a report which concluded that one in eight deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution.

This is one of the main reasons why experts are worried about the long-term implications of coronavirus. As this marriage of PM in the air and SARS-CoV-2 can multiply the risk we face by many folds.

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.