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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Air Pollution Likely To Increase COVID Severity, Even for Vaccinated, Finds Study

New Delhi: At a time when the entire globe is moving towards a Covid free world, a new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has revealed that exposure to air pollutants, in particular fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), increased the risk of hospitalisation in COVID-19 patients by up to 30 per cent, even for the fully vaccinated.Also Read – COVID, Flu Coinfection Cases See Spike – What Are The Symptoms And How To Differentiate

A team, including researchers from University of Southern California (USC), US, analysed medical records from patients at Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s (KPSC) Department of Research & Evaluation. Also Read – Canada Drops Vaccine Mandate for Travellers | Check New Covid Guidelines Here

Here are some of the key takeaways from the study:

  • Across the health care network, 50,010 patients, aged 12 and above, were diagnosed with COVID-19 in July or August of 2021, when the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was circulating and many people had been vaccinated.

“These findings are important because they show that, while COVID-19 vaccines are successful at reducing the risk of hospitalisation, people who are vaccinated and exposed to polluted air are still at increased risk for worse outcomes than vaccinated people not exposed to air pollution,” said Anny Xiang, study author and a senior research scientist at KPSC. Also Read – Khosta-2, New COVID-Like Virus Found In Russian Bats, Can Infect Humans – All You Need To Know

  • The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, estimated air pollution exposure levels for each participant based on their residential addresses.
  • The researchers looked at average PM2.5, NO2, and ozone (O3) levels during the one-month and one-year periods before each patient received a COVID-19 diagnosis.

“We investigated both long-term and short-term air pollution exposure, which may influence COVID-19 severity through different mechanisms,” said Zhanghua Chen, assistant professor at USC, and co-first author of the study.

  • Over the long term, pollution is linked to increase in cardiovascular and lung diseases, which are in turn associated with more severe COVID-19 symptoms, the researchers said.
  • In the short term, air pollution exposure may worsen inflammation in the lungs and could even alter the immune response to the virus.
  • The team found that among 30,912 people who were unvaccinated, high short-term PM2.5 exposure increased the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisations by 13 per cent, while long-term exposure increased the risk by 24 per cent.

(With PTI Inputs)

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