Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Peaks of Fine Particulate Matter May Modulate the Spreading and Virulence of COVID-19

Version 1 : Received: 4 September 2020 / Approved: 7 September 2020 / Online: 7 September 2020 (04:28:12 CEST)

How to cite: Rohrer, M.; Flahault, A.; Stoffel, M. Peaks of Fine Particulate Matter May Modulate the Spreading and Virulence of COVID-19. Preprints 2020, 2020090156 Rohrer, M.; Flahault, A.; Stoffel, M. Peaks of Fine Particulate Matter May Modulate the Spreading and Virulence of COVID-19. Preprints 2020, 2020090156

Abstract

A probe of a patient, seeking help in an emergency ward of a French hospital in late December 2019 because of Influenza like symptoms, was retrospectively tested positive to COVID-19. Despite the early appearance of the virus in Europe, the prevalence and virulence appeared to be low for several weeks, before the spread and severity of symptoms increased exponentially, yet with marked spatial and temporal differences. Here, we compare the possible linkages between peaks of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and the sudden, explosive increase of hospitalizations and mortality rates in the Swiss Canton of Ticino, and the Greater Paris and London regions. We also discuss the influence of Saharan dust intrusions on the COVID-19 outbreak observed in early 2020 on the Canary Islands. We find that high PM2.5 concentrations – possibly favored by air temperature inversions or Saharan dust intrusions – are not only modulating but even more so boosting severe outbreaks of COVID-19. We conclude that the overburdening of the health services and hospitals as well as the high over-mortality observed in various regions of Europe in spring 2020 can be linked to peaks of PM2.5 and likely particular weather situations that have favored the spread and enhanced the virulence of the virus. In the future, we recommend to monitor not only the prevalence of the virus, but also to consider the occurrence of weather situations that can lead to sudden, very explosive COVID-19 outbreaks.

Subject Areas

COVID-19; thermal inversion; PM2.5 air pollution; desert dust intrusions

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