A man sells cotton candy on a road blanketed in thick haze amid rising air pollution levels, in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.(Vipin Kumar/HT photo)
A man sells cotton candy on a road blanketed in thick haze amid rising air pollution levels, in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.(Vipin Kumar/HT photo)

Harvard study establishes bad air, Covid-19 mortality rate link

An increase of 1ug/m3 in average PM2.5 exposure raised the mortality rate of Covid-19 by roughly 11%, a group of Harvard University researchers have found, the latest in a series of studies that underscore the double whammy faced by people in polluted parts of the world during the pandemic.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 06, 2020 03:06 AM IST

An increase of 1ug/m3 in average PM2.5 exposure raised the mortality rate of Covid-19 by roughly 11%, a group of Harvard University researchers have found, the latest in a series of studies that underscore the double whammy faced by people in polluted parts of the world during the pandemic.

The latest study is by a team of researchers in Harvard University who carried out a statistical analysis of coronavirus disease mortality rates across the 3,089 counties in United States and compared it with the long –term exposure people in these regions had of ultra-fine PM2.5 particles.

“We found that an increase of 1 ug/m3 in the long-term average PM2.5 s is associated with a statistically significant 11% increase in the county’s Covid-19 mortality rate,” said the authors in their report, published in Science Advances on Wednesday.

The analysis takes into account average PM2.5 exposure between 2000 and 2016 and Covid-19 mortality up till June 18. The findings are significant for a country like India where people are exposed to the highest annual average concentrations of PM2.5 in the world.

According to the State of Global Air 2020 report published in October, the average Indian was exposed to 83.2ug/m3 of PM2.5 in 2019. For the average American, this number was less than a tenth at 7.66. At 11am on Thursday, the average hourly PM2.5 concentration across the 34 pollution monitors in Delhi stood at 360ug/m3. India’s Capital is currently seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Air pollution causes a wide variety of health effects, some of the worst of which is due to the effects on an organ that Covid-19 too targets: the lungs. Some of these are shortened life expectancy, increased inflammation and tendency to develop clots, and greater susceptibility to breathing problems such as asthma, noted a separate research paper by researchers from University of Catania, Italy.

The implication of increased air pollution on Covid-19 outcomes was first reported from Italy. “Our data show a significant relationship between mean PM 2.5 concentration during February 2020, one month before the beginning of the outbreak, and the number of Covid-19 cases per region (updated to March 31st), confirming how more polluted areas are the ones where the contagion is more widespread,” said the authors From the University of Catania in their August, 2020 update to their paper first published in April.

“More significantly patients in polluted areas present with more severe forms of the disease requiring ICU. Mortality is two-fold higher than the other regions despite similar rates of ICU admission,” they added.

This is now backed by the statistical analysis of the American counties and their Covid-19 outbreaks. The Harvard University researchers used a method known as regression analysis to zero-in on possible factors that raised chances of Covid-19 mortality.

Exposure to PM2.5 appeared to be the most prominent. “We also found that population density, days since the first Covid-19 case was reported, median household income, percent of owner-occupied housing, percent of the adult population with less than high school education, age distribution, and percent of Black residents are important predictors of the Covid-19 mortality rate in the model,” they added.

The authors, however, add that their analysis is limited by lack of access to “individual-level risk factors” such as age, race, and smoking status, which can have an impact on the Covid-19 mortality rate.

But, they add, an ecological regression analysis could help point research into the direction of different biological factors that can be at play. “For example, it has been hypothesized that chronic exposure to PM2.5 causes alveolar angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) receptor over expression and impairs host defenses. This could cause a more severe form of Covid-19 in ACE-2–depleted lungs, increasing the likelihood of poor outcomes, including death,” they said.

At the least, the authors add, such research could also provide a “strong scientific argument” for revision of ambient air quality standards and other environmental policies in the midst of a pandemic.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Azad said PM Modi speaks frankly about his past as a tea-seller and does not try to hide his background from the world.(ANI Photo)
Azad said PM Modi speaks frankly about his past as a tea-seller and does not try to hide his background from the world.(ANI Photo)

Cong’s Ghulam Nabi Azad hails PM Modi for ‘not forgetting roots’

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:40 AM IST
Addressing a function by Gujjar Desh Charitable Trust in Jammu, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said people should learn from the PM about how one remains grounded to their roots.
Close
The economy has gradually recovered and come back in expansion zone in the third quarter (October-December) with a GDP growth of 0.4%.(Reuters file photo. Representative image)
The economy has gradually recovered and come back in expansion zone in the third quarter (October-December) with a GDP growth of 0.4%.(Reuters file photo. Representative image)

Year into pandemic, economy in polarised place

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:11 AM IST
It was on March 24 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a comprehensive nationwide lockdown beginning March 25. This lockdown, which lasted for 68 days, was among the most stringent in the world and virtually brought all non-essential economic activities to a halt.
Close
A worker inspects syringes of a vaccine for Covid-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing. (AP)
A worker inspects syringes of a vaccine for Covid-19 produced by Sinovac at its factory in Beijing. (AP)

Dispatch X: A columnist looks back

By R Sukumar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:04 AM IST
We knew little about coronaviruses (although they weren’t unknown) before the pandemic. We would have known a lot less if not for Sars, which emerged in 2002-03, flared up, and then died out.
Close
Mohammed Hussain Siddiq was admitted to a private hospital in Hyderabad and even given an estimated bill of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1 lakh per day for treatment.(AP file photo. Representative image)
Mohammed Hussain Siddiq was admitted to a private hospital in Hyderabad and even given an estimated bill of 1 lakh per day for treatment.(AP file photo. Representative image)

India's 1st Covid fatality: In Kalaburagi, memories of a harrowing time persist

By Sharan Poovanna, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:54 AM IST
At least 12,350 people lost their lives in Karnataka alone, just as hundreds of thousands more around the country and planet. In India, 161,000 people have lost their lives. This number stands at 2.5 million globally.
Close
Dutta was treated at Safdarjung hospital, one of the only two hospitals designated for treatment of Covid-19 at the time.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
Dutta was treated at Safdarjung hospital, one of the only two hospitals designated for treatment of Covid-19 at the time.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

From 1st Covid-19 patient, a call to dispel stigma

By Anonna Dutt, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:47 AM IST
A resident of Mayur Vihar, Rohit Dutta says Covid-19 changed his life in other, more common ways. He meets only one friend at a time instead of a minimum of five-people get-togethers.
Close
A woman wearing a protective face mask buys fruit in a market, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Mumbai,. (Reuters Photo)
A woman wearing a protective face mask buys fruit in a market, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Mumbai,. (Reuters Photo)

Lessons from the coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:32 AM IST
While the first batch of cases was reported in India on March 2, the first month or so of the spread of the disease in the country mostly consisted of infections being reported in people who travelled abroad, or their families, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
Close
Mother of 22-year-old Aakash Mehra, who was shot and injured by militants on February 17 in Srinagar, wails during his funeral at Janipur Colony in Jammu. (PTI)
Mother of 22-year-old Aakash Mehra, who was shot and injured by militants on February 17 in Srinagar, wails during his funeral at Janipur Colony in Jammu. (PTI)

Eatery owner’s son dies after being shot by terrorists in J&K

By Ashiq Hussain, Srinagar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:13 AM IST
Suspected terrorists had opened fire on Aakash Mehra,25, outside Krishan Dhaba on February 17. “He died early morning, “ SSP Srinagar Haseeb Mughal told HT. Mehra was being treated at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar where he was on ventilator.
Close
In the judiciary, on average, one in three judges in the High Court and one in four among subordinate judges were yet to be hired.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
In the judiciary, on average, one in three judges in the High Court and one in four among subordinate judges were yet to be hired.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

How Covid pandemic hit the justice system

By Maja Daruwala
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 04:56 AM IST
The second edition of the India Justice Report, which used 87 metrics across police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid systems, offered a ready reckoner of the justice system as a whole.
Close
A health worker wearing protective gear takes a nasal swab sample of inbound travellers for Covid-19 coronavirus tests at CSMT railway station, in Mumbai.(Bhushan Koyande / HT file photo)
A health worker wearing protective gear takes a nasal swab sample of inbound travellers for Covid-19 coronavirus tests at CSMT railway station, in Mumbai.(Bhushan Koyande / HT file photo)

Urban areas still more vulnerable to coronavirus but cases now evenly spread

By Abhishek Jha, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 04:43 AM IST
While India seems to have so far escaped a second wave of Covid-19 infections, tracking the geography of the pandemic in the country over the last one year makes for an interesting analysis.
Close
In the week beginning March 2, there were nearly 50 cases.(Reuters Photo)
In the week beginning March 2, there were nearly 50 cases.(Reuters Photo)

One year of Covid-19: How India fought the virus

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 04:36 AM IST
In March of 2020, when the world first caught a glimpse of the devastation that the coronavirus would go on to unleash, experts feared India would suffer heavily as well.
Close
The immunisation drive across the country was halted for Saturday and Sunday to move to the new Co-WIN platform that will allow the self-registration of recipients.(ANI file photo)
The immunisation drive across the country was halted for Saturday and Sunday to move to the new Co-WIN platform that will allow the self-registration of recipients.(ANI file photo)

Covid-19 in India: Next phase of vaccine drive kick-starts today

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 04:29 AM IST
From Monday, people eligible for the next phase can walk up to a vaccination centre to be registered for a dose. The decision will allow anyone above the age of 60 and those older than 45 but with comorbidities that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19 to approach government and private hospitals for shots.
Close
Senior citizens take part in a digital literacy class by Agewell Foundation. (Sourced)
Senior citizens take part in a digital literacy class by Agewell Foundation. (Sourced)

Elderly make the digital switch during Covid-19 pandemic

By Manoj Sharma, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 03:34 AM IST
India has about 104 million people aged above 60 — just a shade below China —according to the 2011 Census. But digital inclusion has been a distant dream for them. The government’s National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) aims to empower at least one person per household.
Close
**EDS: TWITTER IMAGE POSTED BY @AAPUttarPradesh ON SUNDAY, FEB. 28, 2021** New Delhi: AAP National Convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addresses during a farmer's rally, in Meerut. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_28_2021_000159B)(PTI)
**EDS: TWITTER IMAGE POSTED BY @AAPUttarPradesh ON SUNDAY, FEB. 28, 2021** New Delhi: AAP National Convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addresses during a farmer's rally, in Meerut. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_28_2021_000159B)(PTI)

Farmers in a do-or-die battle: Kejriwal at mahapanchayat

By S Raju, Meerut
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 02:35 AM IST
Speaking at a Kisan Mahapanchayat in Meerut, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader termed the new laws as a “a death warrant” for farmers. He said the farmers were in a “do or die” battle because they felt the government would hand over their land to corporates and they would become labourers on their own land.
Close
Mehul Choksi siphoned off close to <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>7,080 crore in the <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>13,578 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud before fleeing to Antigua on January 4, 2018, a month before the mega-scam came to notice.(HT Photo)
Mehul Choksi siphoned off close to 7,080 crore in the 13,578 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud before fleeing to Antigua on January 4, 2018, a month before the mega-scam came to notice.(HT Photo)

Antigua revokes citizenship of Mehul Choksi

By Neeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 12:57 AM IST
The development was confirmed to HT by at least two officers in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), who added that the fugitive businessman is currently fighting revocation of his citizenship in an Antiguan civil court.
Close
The new rules that will cover over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Hotstar, social media intermediaries such as Facebook and Twitter, and digital news media, were notified by the government on Thursday.
The new rules that will cover over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Hotstar, social media intermediaries such as Facebook and Twitter, and digital news media, were notified by the government on Thursday.

New rules make way for self-regulation: I&B ministry secretary

By Deeksha Bhardwaj, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 12:31 AM IST
“There will be no authoritarian process,” information and broadcasting ministry secretary Amit Khare told Hindustan Times. “The regulation system is accountable to the courts. Any misuse of power can be checked.”
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP