Is air pollution making the coronavirus pandemic even more deadly?
(The Guardian, 4 May 2020) Dirty air is well known to worsen the heart and lung risk factors for Covid-19 - early research is cause for concern.
In many respects, it makes perfect sense.
Patients with severe Covid-19 are twice as likely to have had pre-existing respiratory diseases and three times as likely to have had cardiovascular problems.
And decades of gold standard research have shown air pollution damages hearts and lungs.
So is dirty air, which already kills at least 7 million people a year, turbo-charging the coronavirus pandemic?
The overlap of highly polluted places, such as northern Italy, and pandemic hotspots is stark and preliminary studies point in this direction, while a link between the 2003 Sars outbreak and dirty air is already known.
Confirming the impact of air pollution on the severity of Covid-19 could make a real difference by showing the response should be boosted in places with poor air quality. But doing the scientific studies required in the midst of a global pandemic and with imperfect data is difficult.