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      Links between air pollution and COVID-19 in England

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          Abstract

          In December 2019, a novel disease, coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), emerged in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China. COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) presumed to have jumped species from another mammal to humans. This virus has caused a rapidly spreading global pandemic. To date, over 300,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in England and over 40,000 patients have died. While progress has been achieved in managing this disease, the factors in addition to age that affect the severity and mortality of COVID-19 have not been clearly identified. Recent studies of COVID-19 in several countries identified links between air pollution and death rates. Here, we explored potential links between major fossil fuel-related air pollutants and SARS-CoV-2 mortality in England. We compared current SARS-CoV-2 cases and deaths from public databases to both regional and subregional air pollution data monitored at multiple sites across England. After controlling for population density, age and median income, we show positive relationships between air pollutant concentrations, particularly nitrogen oxides, and COVID-19 mortality and infectivity. Using detailed UK Biobank data, we further show that PM 2.5 was a major contributor to COVID-19 cases in England, as an increase of 1 m 3 in the long-term average of PM 2.5 was associated with a 12% increase in COVID-19 cases. The relationship between air pollution and COVID-19 withstands variations in the temporal scale of assessments (single-year vs 5-year average) and remains significant after adjusting for socioeconomic, demographic and health-related variables. We conclude that a small increase in air pollution leads to a large increase in the COVID-19 infectivity and mortality rate in England. This study provides a framework to guide both health and emissions policies in countries affected by this pandemic.

          Graphical abstract

          Highlights

          • Regional levels of NO 2, NO and O 3 correlate with number of COVID-19 deaths.

          • Sub-regional NO x levels are associated with increased COVID-19 deaths and cases.

          • Levels of PM and NO x map increased number of COVID-19 infections in the UK Biobank.

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          Most cited references50

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          Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China

          Summary Background A recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel betacoronavirus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics and treatment and clinical outcomes of these patients. Methods All patients with suspected 2019-nCoV were admitted to a designated hospital in Wuhan. We prospectively collected and analysed data on patients with laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection by real-time RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing. Data were obtained with standardised data collection forms shared by WHO and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium from electronic medical records. Researchers also directly communicated with patients or their families to ascertain epidemiological and symptom data. Outcomes were also compared between patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and those who had not. Findings By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0–58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0–13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality. Major gaps in our knowledge of the origin, epidemiology, duration of human transmission, and clinical spectrum of disease need fulfilment by future studies. Funding Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
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            A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019

            Summary In December 2019, a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown cause was linked to a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. A previously unknown betacoronavirus was discovered through the use of unbiased sequencing in samples from patients with pneumonia. Human airway epithelial cells were used to isolate a novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, which formed a clade within the subgenus sarbecovirus, Orthocoronavirinae subfamily. Different from both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, 2019-nCoV is the seventh member of the family of coronaviruses that infect humans. Enhanced surveillance and further investigation are ongoing. (Funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China and the National Major Project for Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease in China.)
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              Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis

              Summary Background In the face of rapidly changing data, a range of case fatality ratio estimates for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been produced that differ substantially in magnitude. We aimed to provide robust estimates, accounting for censoring and ascertainment biases. Methods We collected individual-case data for patients who died from COVID-19 in Hubei, mainland China (reported by national and provincial health commissions to Feb 8, 2020), and for cases outside of mainland China (from government or ministry of health websites and media reports for 37 countries, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, until Feb 25, 2020). These individual-case data were used to estimate the time between onset of symptoms and outcome (death or discharge from hospital). We next obtained age-stratified estimates of the case fatality ratio by relating the aggregate distribution of cases to the observed cumulative deaths in China, assuming a constant attack rate by age and adjusting for demography and age-based and location-based under-ascertainment. We also estimated the case fatality ratio from individual line-list data on 1334 cases identified outside of mainland China. Using data on the prevalence of PCR-confirmed cases in international residents repatriated from China, we obtained age-stratified estimates of the infection fatality ratio. Furthermore, data on age-stratified severity in a subset of 3665 cases from China were used to estimate the proportion of infected individuals who are likely to require hospitalisation. Findings Using data on 24 deaths that occurred in mainland China and 165 recoveries outside of China, we estimated the mean duration from onset of symptoms to death to be 17·8 days (95% credible interval [CrI] 16·9–19·2) and to hospital discharge to be 24·7 days (22·9–28·1). In all laboratory confirmed and clinically diagnosed cases from mainland China (n=70 117), we estimated a crude case fatality ratio (adjusted for censoring) of 3·67% (95% CrI 3·56–3·80). However, after further adjusting for demography and under-ascertainment, we obtained a best estimate of the case fatality ratio in China of 1·38% (1·23–1·53), with substantially higher ratios in older age groups (0·32% [0·27–0·38] in those aged <60 years vs 6·4% [5·7–7·2] in those aged ≥60 years), up to 13·4% (11·2–15·9) in those aged 80 years or older. Estimates of case fatality ratio from international cases stratified by age were consistent with those from China (parametric estimate 1·4% [0·4–3·5] in those aged <60 years [n=360] and 4·5% [1·8–11·1] in those aged ≥60 years [n=151]). Our estimated overall infection fatality ratio for China was 0·66% (0·39–1·33), with an increasing profile with age. Similarly, estimates of the proportion of infected individuals likely to be hospitalised increased with age up to a maximum of 18·4% (11·0–7·6) in those aged 80 years or older. Interpretation These early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death. Funding UK Medical Research Council.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Environ Pollut
                Environ Pollut
                Environmental Pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)
                The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.
                0269-7491
                1873-6424
                19 October 2020
                19 October 2020
                Affiliations
                [1]MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. L. Miguel Martins,
                Article
                S0269-7491(20)36548-9 115859
                10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115859
                7571423
                cb2b6b1d-0bb0-4edd-b2ab-27476c88c7be
                © 2020 The Author(s)

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                Categories
                Article

                General environmental science

                sars-cov-2, covid-19, air pollution, nitrogen oxides, ozone, pm2.5, pm10, mortality

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