According to a review of studies that associate poor air quality with the spread of COVID-19, conducted by Dr. Cristina Sierra Vargas, a professor at the CES University School of Medicine, there is no clear evidence to conclude that the contagion of the disease may increase with the arrival of the environmental contingency.
According to Dr. Sierra, The environmental emergency that cities such as Medellín regularly go through is due to the accumulation in the air of polluting particles that when inhaled can have consequences such as the incidence of heart attacks and strokes, inflammation of the airway , alterations in the immune system, appearance of asthma and allergies in children, among others.
Given the risk that the situation entails, especially in diseases that affect respiration or are produced by inhaling particles in the environment (such as COVID-19), Dr. Sierra Vargas conducted a review among 324 results (found in the search engine PubMed medical articles) that associated COVID-19, its spread and lethality, with poor air quality.
Among the most common hypotheses he found were those that associate polluting particles as a means of transmission of the SARS-COV2 virus, those that say that there is a possibility of transmission based on the findings of genetic material in aerosols (much smaller particles in the air than a drop of saliva) and those that state that contamination makes the virus more lethal in the body due to the diseases it causes.
For the first two hypotheses, the teacher maintains that there is no conclusive material to say that they are entirely true.
“The appearance of genetic material of the virus does not necessarily mean that it can spread from aerosols (taking into account that the most important form of transmission is saliva droplets, which are much larger) and because the studies reviewed have not yet found an association significant among the total population investigated, and what has been found is still insufficient ", the doctor explained.
The doctor affirms that the hypothesis that relates the lethality of the virus with diseases caused by polluted air is one of the most correct. Because the possibility of death from coronavirus is associated with problems such as asthma or cardiovascular dysfunctions.
“I would say that there are not enough elements to say that air quality changes the course of infection. What is certain is that we must be concerned about air quality and the effects that it has been shown to have on the body”, Explained the doctor.
According to data from the World Health Organization, 92% of the world's population lives in areas where the air quality is not ideal. A study by the institution specialized in health metrics, Global Burden of Disease, affirmed that only in 2016 (year of its most recent study) 6.5 million people died on the planet due to diseases caused by air pollution.