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After studies, it's clear that air pollution contributes to Covid mortality: ICMR

DG, ICMR Dr. Balram Bhargava addressing a press conference on the actions taken, preparedness, and updates on COVID-19 (ANI)Premium
DG, ICMR Dr. Balram Bhargava addressing a press conference on the actions taken, preparedness, and updates on COVID-19 (ANI)

  • According to a study, scientists have estimated that about 15% of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution
  • Furthering on the development of the Covid-19 vaccines in India and its distribution, Dr Bhargava informed that three vaccine candidates are in different stages of clinical testing

Amid coronavirus pandemic and the onset of winters in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday said that studies have proven that long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of dying from Covid-19.

"There have been studies from Europe and US, where they have looked at polluted areas and have compared mortality during lockdown and correlation with pollution. It is found that pollution is contributing to mortality in COVID, that's well established by studies," said Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, in a health ministry briefing today.

According to a study, published in Cardiovascular Research on Tuesday, scientists estimated that about 15% of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. In Europe the proportion was about 19%, in North America it was 17%, and in East Asia about 27%.

In their CVR paper, the researchers write that these proportions are an estimate of "the fraction of COVID-19 deaths that could be avoided if the population were exposed to lower counterfactual air pollution levels without fossil fuel-related and other anthropogenic [caused by humans] emissions".

Moreover, speaking on the Covid-19 spread in the country among youngsters, Dr Bhargava added that overall the figure in India is that below the age of 17 years, only 8% are COVID-19 positive, and below the age of 5 years, that figure would be much less.

Furthering on the development of the Covid-19 vaccines in India and its distribution as soon as it's available, Dr Bhargava informed that three vaccine candidates in India are in different stages of clinical testing. "Covaxin has got approval for phase III trials, Cadila also progressing with phase-II trials & Serum is completing phase 2b trial and has an ongoing trial in Brazil, South Africa and the US," he added.

Echoing the concern of availability and distribution in the country, V K Paul, Niti Aayog member, said, "We've requested state governments to wait for overall picture to become clear and to take a national approach towards engaging companies & deciding the criteria for vaccine. In order to deliver the vaccine to priority groups, there's no problems in terms of resources."

Meanwhile, air quality deteriorated in the national capital with the rise of pollutants in the atmosphere and overall Delhi's Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the "very poor" category, said the Delhi Pollution Control Committee data on Tuesday.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 346 in Rohini, 329 in RK Puram, 377 in Anand Vihar, and 363 in Mundka, all four in the 'very poor' category, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.

In an attempt to curb the increasing air pollution in the national capital, the Delhi government recently launched the 'Red Light On, Gaadi Off' campaign as part of its 'Yuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh' (War Against Pollution) initiative.

Along with this, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai had also announced the launch of a campaign starting on Monday to include the citizens of the capital in raising awareness on air pollution.

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