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Climate experts say pollution could make coronavirus worse

Climate experts say pollution could make coronavirus worse
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Environmental pollution and smoking could exacerbate the effects of the coronavirus, some experts have warned.

Although no large-scale studies have been conducted on the connection or lack thereof, some environmental experts have pointed out that lung damage caused by pollutants has been linked to increased risk of viral respiratory tract infection, The Washington Post reported.

“Given what we know now, it is very likely that people who are exposed to more air pollution and who are smoking tobacco products are going to fare worse if infected with covid than those who are breathing cleaner air, and who don’t smoke,” Aaron Bernstein, the interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Post.

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Other experts noted that further study is needed before drawing any conclusions about linkage.

“I would still treat this as a hypothesis – a reasonable one, but still a hypothesis,” Anna Hansell, an expert in environmental epidemiology at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, told the newspaper.

During China’s 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, research indicated the disease was more deadly in regions of the country with lower air quality, but researchers hastened to add that this was an association rather than a causation, with possible confounding variables like socioeconomic status.

Studies of Middle East respiratory syndrome, meanwhile, showed worse outcomes for smokers in both South Korea and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, more severe cases of coronavirus frequently include pneumonia, to which smokers also tend to be more susceptible, the newspaper noted.