Although the attention of the world and the global health community specifically is deservedly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, other determinants of health continue to have large impacts and may also interact with COVID-19. Air pollution is one crucial example. Established evidence from other respiratory viruses and emerging evidence for COVID-19 specifically indicates that air pollution alters respiratory defense mechanisms leading to worsened infection severity. Air pollution also contributes to co-morbidities that are known to worsen outcomes amongst those infected with COVID-19, and air pollution may also enhance infection transmission due to its impact on more frequent coughing. Yet despite the massive disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are reasons for optimism: broad societal lockdowns have shown us a glimpse of what a future with strong air pollution measures could yield. Thus, the urgency to combat air pollution is not diminished, but instead heightened in the context of the pandemic.


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Brauer, M., Casadei, B., Harrington, R., Kovács, R., Sliwa, K. & Miller, M. 2021, 'Taking a stand against air pollution – The impact on cardiovascular disease: A joint opinion from the World Heart Federation, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and the European Society of Cardiology', European Heart Journal, 143(14), pp. e800-e804. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.052666

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Last updated: 10 January 2023
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