Pollution clubbed with pandemic may aggravate diseases, lead to spike in mortality, says AIIMS director
Ten News Network
High levels of air pollution together with a raging Covid-19 pandemic will not only aggravate severe disease but can also lead to an increase in mortality, observed Randeep Guleria, director All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Speaking to a news agency, Guleria said increased air pollution, specially during winters, can help the virus in surviving longer, thereby affecting more people. He also added that both affect the lungs and blood vessels, thereby aggravating to the impact.
“If you have high levels of air pollution, especially during winter months, then due to pollution and inversion, pollutants stay at ground level for a longer period of time and the virus can also survive for a longer period and therefore can spread to others. Also, air pollution itself causes inflammation in the lungs, it causes inflammation in blood vessels, and this has been documented in a large number of studies. COVID-19 also affects lungs and blood vessels so a combination of air pollution and COVID-19 can cause more severe disease,” Guleria pointed.
Citing an earlier study conducted during the SARS outbreak in China, he added,
“There was a study done in 2002-03, during the SARS outbreak in China, which showed that for every increase in PM 2.5 by 1 microgram/ per meter cube there was an increase in mortality due to SARS infection by about 8 per cent.”
The AIIMS Director also urged people to celebrate a Green Diwali, without bursting any crackers this year. He said there is a “very high level of pollution in Indian-Gangetic belt especially in cities like Delhi” and also urged people to maintain all precautions including wearing masks, physical distancing and avoid crowds during the festive season.