The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads easier and becomes more lethal in places with high levels of contamination.
The National Institute of Public Health (INSP) analyzes the relationship between chronic pollution (annual averages), acute pollution (daily averages) and deaths from covid-19. In a research soon to be published, it indicates that mortality from coronavirus increases by around 8% for each microgram per cubic meter of suspended particles.
Among the most polluted Mexican cities are CDMX, Toluca, Monterrey, Mexicali, Tula and Salamanca.
“Air pollution weakens the body’s defense systems, the immune system. This causes bacterial or viral diseases such as covid to appear more frequently and more seriously. It is as if SARS-CoV-2 reaches people who have a weakened immune system, with less capacity to respond adequately, “he explained to Excelsior Horacio Riojas, INSP researcher.
“In Mexico, practically no or very few cities meet the air quality standards for annual metrics. That is, with what is recommended by the WHO or by the Official Mexican Standards ”, he said.
Pollution, fertile ground for the covid
Red flags are warned in Mexico City, Toluca, Monterrey, Mexicali, Tula and Salamanca, according to the National Institute of Public Health.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the covid-19 disease, has fertile ground to spread where contamination levels are highest, since they are favorable places for it to be more lethal. In addition, the arrival of winter makes a breeding ground that exacerbates the risk.
Among the Mexican cities with the highest pollution rates are Mexico City, Toluca, Monterrey and Mexicali, as well as Tula and Salamanca.
An investigation by the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) that analyzes the relationship between chronic (annual averages), acute (daily averages) and deaths from the new coronavirus, soon to be published, indicates that mortality from covid increases around 8% for each microgram per cubic meter of suspended particles.
“The explanation we found for this is that air pollution what it does is impact or weaken the body’s defense systems, the immune system. This causes bacterial or viral diseases such as covid to appear more frequently and more seriously. It is as if the SARS-CoV-2 virus reached people who have a weakened immune system, with less capacity to respond adequately, ”explained Horacio Riojas, a researcher at the INSP.
The preliminary results of the investigation, he detailed, suggest that, in the case of Mexican cities, nitrogen dioxides have a greater influence on the death rate from covid than particles.
“In Mexico, practically no city or very few cities meet the air quality standards for annual metrics. That is, with what is recommended by the WHO or by the Official Mexican Standards. The cities that have the highest levels of contamination by suspended particles of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) are Mexicali, Toluca, Monterrey and Mexico City, but also the Tula area and some areas of Guanajuato, such as Salamanca, have the problems most important air pollution ”, he said.
Before the pandemic, environmental pollution was already a public health problem. During 2010, Mexico registered 20 thousand 500 premature deaths from contamination, according to data from The Global Burden of Disease, that is, on average, two every hour.
Now, Riojas said, globally it is observed that the cities where previously there were higher levels of pollution are those with the highest mortality rates from the new coronavirus. In other words, the incidence and risk of morbidity and mortality from covid-19 increases with chronic and acute exposure to pollutants, particularly particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10) and nitrogen dioxide.
“Now we see that a chronic problem that we had, which is air pollution, which generates what we call preventable deaths, especially in people who have a chronic disease, is complicated by the pandemic, because the two risk factors they affect respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, we have seen that they interact with each other, so contamination contributes to increasing mortality from covid, “he insisted.
The winter period adds one more risk
“The problem is that temperatures drop a lot in various cities. Between now and January, February, the issue of low temperatures, suspended particles, will be combined with the presence of the virus.
“So during the following weeks we will have all these factors that we have been dragging, plus this new one, that put people at greater risk, especially the most vulnerable,” he warned.
He stated that the population should not lower its guard by maintaining protective measures against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and taking actions to reduce the emission of pollutants and avoid exposure to them.
“It would be necessary to try to maintain some measures such as the reduction of the vehicular fleet circulating. This in some way plays in favor of prevention, of reducing the emission of pollutants, and also of exposure ”, exemplified the researcher.
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