Fifteen per cent of all Covid-19-related deaths worldwide “could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution,” according to a German-led team of researchers.
Published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, the estimate is based on analysis of pollution and pandemic data by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Harvard University’s public health school and The Cyprus Institute’s Climate and Atmosphere Research Center.
The authors said that deaths linked to both Covid-19 and air pollution represent “potentially avoidable, excess mortality.”
Exposure to air pollution likely aggravates “co-morbidities that could lead to fatal health outcomes of the virus infection.”
“If you already have heart disease, then air pollution and coronavirus infection will cause trouble that can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and stroke,” said co-author Thomas Muenzel of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
More than a quarter of coronavirus-related deaths in Asia could be linked to to air pollution, the researchers estimate, compared to Europe’s 19 per cent and North America’s 17 per cent.
Over 1.1 million people worldwide have died after being infected with the coronavirus, according to official data tallied by Johns Hopkins University.
A second wave of infections is sweeping Europe, with some countries seeing record new daily case numbers – though hospitalizations and deaths have been slower to spike than during the pandemic’s first March to May onslaught.