Air pollution aggravating COVID-19 lethality? Exploration in Asian cities using statistical models
The present work estimates the increased risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 by establishing the linkage between the mortality rate in the infected cases and the air pollution, specifically Particulate Matters (PM) with aerodynamic diameters ≤ 10 µm and ≤ 2.5 µm. Data related to nine Asian cities are analyzed using statistical approaches, including the analysis of variance and regression model. The present work suggests that there exists a positive correlation between the level of air pollution of a region and the lethality related to COVID-19, indicating air pollution to be an elemental and concealed factor in aggravating the global burden of deaths related to COVID-19. Past exposures to high level of PM2.5 over a long period, is found to significantly correlate with present COVID-19 mortality per unit reported cases (p < 0.05) compared to PM10, with non-significant correlation (p = 0.118). The finding of the study can help government agencies, health ministries and policymakers globally to take proactive steps by promoting immunity-boosting supplements and appropriate masks to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19 in highly polluted areas.
Theoretically, on the basis of the above research, the analysis should hold true for cities of developed countries as well; however, developing countries have special challenges when it comes to fighting COVID-19. A vital aspect is the living standards of developing countries. As these countries are already facing challenges on their livelihood front, adapting to the new enemy of COVID-19 becomes additional stress. The Information–Education–Communication (IEC) about the preventive measures, to mitigate the spread of the virus, to the remotest parts, is taxing and faces ground-level implementation and monitoring challenges. Effective IEC, through right stakeholders’ engagement, encouraging socially distanced public participation, may prove beneficial and pave the way in mitigating the virus spread, faced by these countries.