Presentation and rationale
The human coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID_19) is an infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), that in the first six months of 2020 spread to at least 200 countries of the world.The first epicenter was in January the city of Wuhan and caused in the whole China 84.000 infected cases and 4600 deaths. The first epicenter in Europe was Italy in February-March and particularly the Northern region of Lombardy, causing in whole country approximately 240.000 infections and 35.000 fatalities. Other heavily affected European countries were Spain, France, the UK and Russia. COVID-19 then spread to the Americas with a first epicenter in April in New York City, causing in the USA at least 2.000.000 infections and 115.000 fatalities.In the frame of this dramatic global scenario there is still considerable uncertainty pertaining to the mechanisms of viral spread and the factors that contribute to the different degree of disease severity. It is plausible that an environmental risk factor such as ambient air pollution characterized by a high population attributable fraction plays a key role in increasing the likelihood of spread and severe clinical outcomes in COVID-19, because ambient air pollution has an adverse impact on global morbidity and mortality through components such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3). They affect human health by producing oxidative stress and inflammation, that is turn cause damage on the respiratory, cardiovascular and immune systems definitely involved in COVID-19. With this background, it is biologically plausible that the degree and duration of exposure to air pollution might have harmful effects on the occurrence and clinical course of COVID-19.With these gaps of knowledge this webinar is planned to contribute to a better understanding on whether or not short- and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution influences the spread and clinical manifestations of COVID-19. It is hoped that this initiative will update on the latest evidence and help to support and foster globally public health interventions targeted to protect people living in heavily polluted regions through efforts aimed to lower the emissions of the harmful components of ambient air.
In the months of October and November there will be two webinars that will focus on air pollution and its health effects.