Air pollution and the pandemic

One of the most immediate results of the Covid-19 pandemic was a dramatic reduction in air pollution around the world. This unexpected development also helped to highlight the serious effects of ongoing air pollution on human health, and we are now learning that this is having a direct impact on people infected with the virus. More air pollution, worse health outcomes.

The World Economic Forum has explored this in an episode of their ongoing “World vs. Virus” podcast. Here is some of what their experts said:

“The evidence we have is pretty clear that people who have been living in places that are more polluted over time, that they are more likely to die from coronavirus.”

That’s the stark assessment of Aaron Bernstein, the director of the Center for Climate, Health, and Global Environment at Harvard University.

Researchers in Cambridge came to a similar conclusion, with a study that found more cases of COVID-19, and resulting deaths, in areas of England with high levels of air pollution.

While the studies are ongoing, the initial findings come as no surprise to Maria Neira, an expert on air pollution at the World Health Organisation.

“We cannot prove any correlation between air pollution and the mortality caused by COVID-19, but it’s clear that, if you smoke or if you are exposed to air pollution for a long time, your lungs will be more vulnerable and you will be more vulnerable to any type of respiratory diseases,” Neira told this week’s World Vs Virus podcast.

Check out the full episode below or read more here.