Links between air pollution and COVID-19 in England.
ABSTRACT: In December 2019, a novel disease, coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), emerged in Wuhan, People's Republic of China. COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) presumed to have jumped species from another mammal to humans. This virus has caused a rapidly spreading global pandemic. To date, over 300,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in England and over 40,000 patients have died. While progress has been achieved in managing this disease, the factors in addition to age that affect the severity and mortality of COVID-19 have not been clearly identified. Recent studies of COVID-19 in several countries identified links between air pollution and death rates. Here, we explored potential links between major fossil fuel-related air pollutants and SARS-CoV-2 mortality in England. We compared current SARS-CoV-2 cases and deaths from public databases to both regional and subregional air pollution data monitored at multiple sites across England. After controlling for population density, age and median income, we show positive relationships between air pollutant concentrations, particularly nitrogen oxides, and COVID-19 mortality and infectivity. Using detailed UK Biobank data, we further show that PM2.5 was a major contributor to COVID-19 cases in England, as an increase of 1 m3 in the long-term average of PM2.5 was associated with a 12% increase in COVID-19 cases. The relationship between air pollution and COVID-19 withstands variations in the temporal scale of assessments (single-year vs 5-year average) and remains significant after adjusting for socioeconomic, demographic and health-related variables. We conclude that a small increase in air pollution leads to a large increase in the COVID-19 infectivity and mortality rate in England. This study provides a framework to guide both health and emissions policies in countries affected by this pandemic.
Project description:Many major cities that witnessed heavy air pollution by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) have experienced a high rate of infection and severity of the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19). This phenomenon could be explained by the overexpression of the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) on epithelial cell surfaces of the respiratory tract. Indeed, ACE-2 is a receptor for coronaviruses including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 1 and 2 (SARS-CoV), and ACE-2 is overexpressed under chronic exposure to air pollution such as NO2 and PM2.5. In this review, we explain that ACE-2 acts as the sole receptor for the attachment of the SARS-CoV-2 via its spike protein. The fact that respiratory and vascular epithelial cells express ACE-2 has been previously observed during the 2003 epidemic of the SARS-CoV-1 in China, and during the 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome in Saudi Arabia. High ACE-2 expression in respiratory epithelial cells under air pollution explains the positive correlation between the severity in COVID-19 patients and elevated air pollution, notably high NO2 and PM2.5 levels. Specific areas in India, China, Italy, Russia, Chile and Qatar that experience heavy air pollution also show high rates of COVID-19 infection and severity. Overall, we demonstrate a link between NO2 emissions, PM2.5 levels, ACE-2 expression and COVID-19 infection severity. Therefore, air pollution should be reduced in places where confirmed cases of COVID-19 are unexpectedly high.
Project description:The COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic struck health, social and economic systems worldwide, and represents an open challenge for scientists -coping with the high inter-individual variability of COVID-19, and for policy makers -coping with the responsibility to understand environmental factors affecting its severity across different geographical areas. Air pollution has been warned of as a modifiable factor contributing to differential SARS-CoV-2 spread but the biological mechanisms underlying the phenomenon are still unknown. Air quality and COVID-19 epidemiological data from 110 Italian provinces were studied by correlation analysis, to evaluate the association between particulate matter (PM)2.5 concentrations and incidence, mortality rate and case fatality risk of COVID-19 in the period 20 February-31 March 2020. Bioinformatic analysis of the DNA sequence encoding the SARS-CoV-2 cell receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) was performed to identify consensus motifs for transcription factors mediating cellular response to pollutant insult. Positive correlations between PM2.5 levels and the incidence (r = 0.67, p < 0.0001), the mortality rate (r = 0.65, p < 0.0001) and the case fatality rate (r = 0.7, p < 0.0001) of COVID-19 were found. The bioinformatic analysis of the ACE-2 gene identified nine putative consensus motifs for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). Our results confirm the supposed link between air pollution and the rate and outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection and support the hypothesis that pollution-induced over-expression of ACE-2 on human airways may favor SARS-CoV-2 infectivity.
Project description:We have evaluated the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region by means of a correlation between climate and air pollution indicators, namely, average temperature, minimum temperature, maximum temperature, rainfall, average relative humidity, wind speed, and air pollution indicators PM10, PM2.5, and NO2 with the COVID-19 daily new cases and deaths. The study focuses in the following LAC cities: Mexico City (Mexico), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Bogotá (Colombia), Guayaquil (Ecuador), Manaus (Brazil), Lima (Perú), Santiago (Chile), São Paulo (Brazil) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). The results show that average temperature, minimum temperature, and air quality were significantly associated with the spread of COVID-19 in LAC. Additionally, humidity, wind speed and rainfall showed a significant relationship with daily cases, total cases and mortality for various cities. Income inequality and poverty levels were also considered as a variable for qualitative analysis. Our findings suggest that and income inequality and poverty levels in the cities analyzed were related to the spread of COVID-19 positive and negative, respectively. These results might help decision-makers to design future strategies to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in LAC and around the world.
Project description:A new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has determined a pneumonia outbreak in China (Wuhan, Hubei Province) in December 2019, called COVID-19 disease. In addition to the person-to person transmission dynamic of the novel respiratory virus, it has been recently studied the role of environmental factors in accelerate SARS-CoV-2 spread and its lethality. The time being, air pollution has been identified as the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world. It affects body's immunity, making people more vulnerable to pathogens. The hypothesis that air pollution, resulting from a combination of factors such as meteorological data, level of industrialization as well as regional topography, can acts both as a carrier of the infection and as a worsening factor of the health impact of COVID-19 disease, has been raised recently. With this review, we want to provide an update state of art relating the role of air pollution, in particular PM2.5, PM10 and NO2, in COVID-19 spread and lethality. The Authors, who first investigated this association, often used different research methods or not all include confounding factors whenever possible. In addition, to date incidence data are underestimated in all countries and to a lesser extent also mortality data. For this reason, the cases included in the reviewed studies cannot be considered conclusive. Although it determines important limitations for direct comparison of results, and more studies are needed to strengthen scientific evidences and support firm conclusions, major findings are consistent, highlighting the important contribution of PM2.5 and NO2 as triggering of the COVID-19 spread and lethality, and with a less extent also PM10, although the potential effect of airborne virus exposure it has not been still demonstrated.
Project description:Air pollution can increase the risk of respiratory diseases, enhancing the susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections. Some studies suggest that small air particles facilitate the spread of viruses and also of the new coronavirus, besides the direct person-to-person contagion. However, the effects of the exposure to particulate matter and other contaminants on SARS-CoV-2 has been poorly explored. Here we examined the possible reasons why the new coronavirus differently impacted on Italian regional and provincial populations. With the help of artificial intelligence, we studied the importance of air pollution for mortality and positivity rates of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Italy. We discovered that among several environmental, health, and socio-economic factors, air pollution and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), as its main component, resulted as the most important predictors of SARS-CoV-2 effects. We also found that the emissions from industries, farms, and road traffic - in order of importance - might be responsible for more than 70% of the deaths associated with SARS-CoV-2 nationwide. Given the major contribution played by air pollution (much more important than other health and socio-economic factors, as we discovered), we projected that, with an increase of 5-10% in air pollution, similar future pathogens may inflate the epidemic toll of Italy by 21-32% additional cases, whose 19-28% more positives and 4-14% more deaths. Our findings, demonstrating that fine-particulate (PM2.5) pollutant level is the most important factor to predict SARS-CoV-2 effects that would worsen even with a slight decrease of air quality, highlight that the imperative of productivity before health and environmental protection is, indeed, a short-term/small-minded resolution.
Project description:The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, has been rapidly increasing in the United States. Boroughs of New York City, including Queens county, turn out to be the epicenters of this infection. According to the data provided by the New York State Department of Health, most of the cases of new COVID-19 infections in New York City have been found in the Queens county where 42,023 people have tested positive, and 3221 people have died as of 20 April 2020. Person-to-person transmission and travels were implicated in the initial spread of the outbreaks, but factors related to the late phase of rapidly spreading outbreaks in March and April are still uncertain. A few previous studies have explored the links between air pollution and COVID-19 infections, but more data is needed to understand the effects of short-term exposures of air pollutants and meteorological factors on the spread of COVID-19 infections, particularly in the U.S. disease epicenters. In this study, we have focused on ozone and PM2.5, two major air pollutants in New York City, which were previously found to be associated with respiratory viral infections. The aim of our regression modeling was to explore the associations among ozone, PM2.5, daily meteorological variables (wind speed, temperature, relative humidity, absolute humidity, cloud percentages, and precipitation levels), and COVID-19 confirmed new cases and new deaths in Queens county, New York during March and April 2020. The results from these analyses showed that daily average temperature, daily maximum eight-hour ozone concentration, average relative humidity, and cloud percentages were significantly and positively associated with new confirmed cases related to COVID-19; none of these variables showed significant associations with new deaths related to COVID-19. The findings indicate that short-term exposures to ozone and other meteorological factors can influence COVID-19 transmission and initiation of the disease, but disease aggravation and mortality depend on other factors.
Project description:The effects of obesity and smoking in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remain controversial. Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a component of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), is the human cell receptor of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19. ACE2 expression increases on lung alveolar epithelial cells and adipose tissue due to obesity, smoking and air pollution. A significant relationship exists between air pollution and SARS-CoV-2 infection, as more severe COVID-19 symptoms occur in smokers; comorbid conditions due to obesity or excess ectopic fat accumulation as underlying risk factors for severe COVID-19 strongly encourage the virus/ACE2 receptor-ligand interaction concept. Indeed, obesity, air pollution and smoking associated risk factors share underlying pathophysiologies that are related to the Renin-Angiotensin-System in SARS-CoV-2 infection. The aim of this review is to emphasize the mechanism of receptor-ligand interaction and its impact on the enhanced risk of death due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Project description:After the initial outbreak in China, the diffusion in Italy of SARS-CoV-2 is exhibiting a clear regional trend with more elevated frequency and severity of cases in Northern areas. Among multiple factors possibly involved in such geographical differences, a role has been hypothesized for atmospheric pollution. We provide additional evidence on the possible influence of air quality, particularly in terms of chronicity of exposure on the spread viral infection in Italian regions. Actual data on Covid-19 outbreak in Italian provinces and corresponding long-term air quality evaluations, were obtained from Italian and European agencies, elaborated and tested for possible interactions. Our elaborations reveal that, beside concentrations, the chronicity of exposure may influence the anomalous variability of SARS-CoV-2 in Italy. Data on distribution of atmospheric pollutants (NO2, O3, PM2.5 and PM10) in Italian regions during the last 4 years, days exceeding regulatory limits, and years of the last decade (2010-2019) in which the limits have been exceeded for at least 35 days, highlight that Northern Italy has been constantly exposed to chronic air pollution. Long-term air-quality data significantly correlated with cases of Covid-19 in up to 71 Italian provinces (updated April 27, 2020) providing further evidence that chronic exposure to atmospheric contamination may represent a favourable context for the spread of the virus. Pro-inflammatory responses and high incidence of respiratory and cardiac affections are well known, while the capability of this coronavirus to bind particulate matters remains to be established. Atmospheric and environmental pollution should be considered as part of an integrated approach for sustainable development, human health protection and prevention of epidemic spreads but in a long-term and chronic perspective, since adoption of mitigation actions during a viral outbreak could be of limited utility.
Project description:Pathological signaling in the lung induced by particulate matter (PM) air pollution partially overlaps with that provoked by COVID-19, the pandemic disease caused by infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Metformin is capable of suppressing one of the molecular triggers of the proinflammatory and prothrombotic processes of urban PM air pollution, namely the mitochondrial ROS/Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ channels (CRAC)/IL-6 cascade. Given the linkage between mitochondrial functionality, ion channels, and inflamm-aging, the ability of metformin to target mitochondrial electron transport and prevent ROS/CRAC-mediated IL-6 release might illuminate new therapeutic avenues to quell the raging of the cytokine and thrombotic-like storms that are the leading causes of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in older people. The incorporation of infection rates, severity and lethality of SARS-CoV-2 infections as new outcomes of metformin usage in elderly populations at risk of developing severe COVID-19, together with the assessment of bronchial/serological titers of inflammatory cytokines and D-dimers, could provide a novel mechanistic basis for the consideration of metformin as a therapeutic strategy against the inflammatory and thrombotic states underlying the gerolavic traits of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Project description:In light of the existing preliminary evidence of a link between Covid-19 and poor air quality, which is largely based upon correlations, we estimate the relationship between long term air pollution exposure and Covid-19 in 355 municipalities in the Netherlands. Using detailed data we find compelling evidence of a positive relationship between air pollution, and particularly PM2.5 concentrations, and Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths. This relationship persists even after controlling for a wide range of explanatory variables. Our results indicate that, other things being equal, a municipality with 1 ?g/m3 more PM2.5 concentrations will have 9.4 more Covid-19 cases, 3.0 more hospital admissions, and 2.3 more deaths. This relationship between Covid-19 and air pollution withstands a number of sensitivity and robustness exercises including instrumenting pollution to mitigate potential endogeneity in the measurement of pollution and modelling spatial spillovers using spatial econometric techniques.