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Those Residing in High Pollution Level Areas More at Risk of Dying Due to Covid, Finds Study

A study based on the Covid-19 data of the United States of America conducted by the Harvard University suggests that those living in areas with high levels of air pollution are 11 percent more likely to die if they get infected by Covid-19 than those living in areas with lower pollution levels.

The new research focussed on the levels of 2.5 micrometres pollutants in the air which can be found through many sources, majorly vehicular. The researchers observed that increasing the level of PM2.5 by just one microgram per cubic metre can increase the chances of death due to the coronavirus by 11 percent, reported Daily Mail.


The Covid-19 data on which the Harvard University research is based has been sourced from Johns Hopkins University while the pollution data was gathered with the help of computer models and atmospheric data.

As per the report, the data is of 98 percent of Americans as it was collected from 3,089 counties of the country. Pollution hotspots in the USA vary drastically — with some cities having none while major cities having a level as high as 12 micrograms per cubic metre.

The researchers have hypothesised that chronic exposure to PM 2.5 causes over expressions of alveolar angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) receptor, which impairs host defences. The coronavirus latches on to the ACE-2 receptor found in the human cells. It tricks the receptor to open up the cells and thus infiltrates the defence system of the body.

Authors of this research said that a severe form of Covid-19 can happen in ACE-2 depleted cells.

This may cause adverse outcomes, including death. Speaking about this new finding, University of Edinburgh’s Mark Miller, who was not involved with this research, said that although the study was carried out in the US, “there is no reason to believe that a similar situation wouldn’t occur in the UK, or anywhere else in the world.”

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