The national study of five Harvard researchers with the university’s biostatistics department analyzing more than 3,000 US counties found that patients with long-term exposure to fine particles from coronavirus had significantly higher mortality rates than those with are not subject to air pollution.
“A slight increase in long-term exposure [particulate matter] leads to a sharp increase in the mortality rate from COVID-19, with an increase of 20 times that observed for [particulate matter] and all of them cause mortality. Study results highlight importance of continuing to apply existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis, “says study conclusion .
Specifically, the researchers found that an increase in air pollution of one gram per cubic meter resulted in up to 15% increase in mortality rates among patients in these regions.
“The results of this document suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to the most serious effects of COVID-19,” said the document.
News of links between severity of illness and air pollution comes as some metropolitan centers have been inundated with hospitalizations due to illness and have struggled to provide enough hospital beds for coronavirus patients .
Louisiana officials initially estimated that the state would run out of hospital beds this week, although the governor later revised the projection.
The coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 76,000 people worldwide, including nearly 11,000 in the United States.