ICMR to study impact of air pollution on infectious diseases including COVID

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is planning to conduct research on impact of air pollution, air quality and microenvironment on infectious diseases, which includes COVID-19.

ICMR has noted that air pollution is a major cause of death and disease globally. The health effects range from increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits to increased risk of premature deaths, the ICMR said.

“Pollutants not only severely impact health, but also earth’s climate and ecosystems globally. Also, there is a growing concern in both medical and climatological communities that global climate change is likely to affect human health,” said a senior official in the ICMR. ” Global climate change may adversely affect mortality and morbidity rates through the general warming. To address these issues, proposals are invited on air pollution viz-a-viz infectious diseases including Covid-19, air quality and microenvironment,” the official added.

The apex biomedical research body will focus on India specific study without any collaboration with any foreign research institutions. ICMR has said that the outcome of the research should come up with innovative technologies out comes that are readily translatable into practice.

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A recent study by Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health also found a “large overlap” between COVID-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, increasing vulnerability to the most severe outcomes of COVID-19. It also claimed that a rise of only 1 g/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15 per cent increase in the COVID death rate, thereby, increasing the threat for a person living for decades in a highly-polluted area.

In a significant development, following a continuous downward trend, India’s active COVID-19 caseload on Wednesday (14,704) has declined to less than 15,000 mark after 707 days. Active cases now constitute 0.03 per cent of the country’s total positive cases. The caseload on April 21, 2020 was 14,759 Active Cases, according to union health ministry. At least 1,233 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours following a steady declining trend.

“This is an important development. We have been working out ways to mitigate air pollution. research studies may helo in formulating polciies,” said TK Joshi, member, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) task force on the linkages between air pollution and health .

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