Just like Swine Flu, Covid-19 may see spike during winter: AIIMS director
Rising air pollution combined with coronavirus infection and lung complications can possibly lead to serious consequences, and therefore, higher mortality, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Speaking with ANI, Dr Guleria stated that escalation of particulate pollution during the winter may not always be fatal but might have serious consequences, meaning that patients may need ICU or ventilator assistance, leading to higher mortality.
Experts broadly have sighted ample examples that identified that the number of all respiratory viruses shoot up during the winter months and have observed that SARS-CoV-2 is primarily a respiratory virus.
“Swine flu also shows a spike during winter months and it is likely that Covid-19 would also do the same. Coming to air pollution, there is data that shows air pollution may also lead to a higher prevalence of Covid-19. This is based on the study being done in the last few months in Italy and China,” Dr Guleria said.
The study in Italy found a positive correlation between PM 2.5 concentration and higher deaths due to Covid-19.
“If people are inhaling pollutants into the airways, that itself causes airways inflammation and leads to worsening of underlying respiratory conditions. In such a situation, if people get Covid infection, they may have a more severe infection which might lead to higher mortality because of this combination,” he said.
While explaining the correlation between rising cases, winter and air pollution, Dr Guleria said, “This is particularly related to two things. Firstly, due to the fall in temperature, viruses can survive for longer periods of time in the environment, unlike summer. Secondly, due to winter people tend to stay indoors, in crowded and poorly-ventilated rooms (to conserve heat) which maximises person-to-person spread of the virus.”
With the Air quality Index (AQI) oscillating between ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ category, it has already come under notice that coronavirus cases have started spiking in Delhi.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in its latest bulletin (4 pm) on AQI, showed that with 296 and 215 index values in Delhi and Gurugram’s, air quality rests in the poor category whereas in Faridabad, Ghaziabad, and Greater Noida it looms into very poor category.