An international team of scientists says 15% of COVID-19 deaths can be attributed to air pollution. Ukraine is among the 20 countries where this indicator is the highest. Such studies have been published in the journal Cardiovascular Research.
The toxic fumes emitted by cars and large industries make people more vulnerable to COVID-19. Previous studies have linked about 7 million deaths worldwide each year to air pollution. Such air has been reported to exacerbate diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Ukraine in the TOP-20 countries in mortality from air pollution
In the new study, the scientists used mathematical modeling. They clarify that these numbers do not mean that air pollution directly caused death from COVID-19 - although they do not rule out this.
Independent scientists, responding to these findings, said it was too early to estimate the number of deaths that could be due to pollution, but they admit that such estimates are quite possible.
The scientists' assessments are as follows:
27% of deaths in East Asia can be attributed to air pollution,
17% in North America;
19% in Europe as a whole;
29% - in the Czech Republic;
28% - in Poland;
27% in China;
27% in North Korea;
27% - in Slovakia;
25% - in Germany, Hungary, Austria and Belarus;
21% - in Ukraine.
If you believe the results, then in Ukraine, dirty air caused the death of more than 1.4 thousand people.
In regions with high air quality standards and relatively low levels of air pollution, such as Australia and New Zealand, pollution was found to be associated with only a few percent of COVID-19 deaths (3% and 1%, respectively).
One of the study's authors, Professor Jos Leliveld from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia, said: “Since the number of deaths from COVID-19 is constantly increasing, it is impossible to give the exact or final number of deaths in each country, which are completely connected with pollution of thousands of deaths from the coronavirus, and we calculated that the share of air pollution is 14%, which means that more than 6.1 thousand deaths may be associated with air pollution. "
Scientists emphasize that their findings "do not imply a direct causal relationship between air pollution and deaths from COVID-19 (although it is possible)."
But the study may confirm that COVID-19 worsens other health conditions, "which can be fatal from a viral infection."
Research colleague Professor Thomas Munzel of the Johannes Gutenberg University and the German Center for Cardiovascular Research in Mainz notes that pollutants that people breathe in through the air cause inflammation and damage to the arteries. This irritates the lining of the arteries, the endothelium, and leads to narrowing and stiffness of the arteries.
Preexisting vascular damage can lead to an increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease. During the pandemic, doctors determined that COVID-19 is a disease of the vascular system, and not just a respiratory disease.
If a person is infected with the coronavirus, it can lead to abnormal blood clotting and decreased blood flow.
The British Heart Foundation reports that COVID-19 can lead to "sticky blood", which increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis and blood clots.
Blood clots can lead to strokes or heart attacks, which is why coronavirus patients often die from complications caused by the virus, not from the virus itself.
This may explain why people with high blood pressure and diabetes (a condition in which blood vessels are damaged) die disproportionately from COVID-19.
Professor Munzel notes: “If long-term exposure to air pollution and infection with the COVID-19 virus is combined, we have additional negative health effects, especially on the heart and blood vessels, resulting in greater vulnerability and less resistance to COVID-19. If you already have heart disease, air pollution and coronavirus infection will cause problems that can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. ”
According to the expert, air pollution damages the lungs and increases the activity of ACE2, which in turn leads to increased absorption of the virus in the lungs and, possibly, in the blood vessels and the heart.
Research proves that viruses can be absorbed by particulate matter and then travel or stay in the air for hours or even days before someone breathes them in.
The tiny particles can then be inhaled deep into the lungs, where the virus begins to multiply.
Sofia Kochmar-Timoshenko, life.pravda.com.ua