The virus might be able to travel farther than assumed
Air pollution could be increasing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Scientists in Italy claim they have found the virus on air pollution particles.
They were studying whether this mode of transmission allows the virus to travel longer distances, resulting in a higher number of people contracting it, The Guardian reported Friday.
The team of scientists found a distinct COVID-19 gene on air pollution samples taken from an urban site and an industrial site in Italy’s Bergamo province.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed and the researchers could not determine if the virus could survive on pollution particles long enough to cause infection.
But previous studies have also said that air pollution could be worsening the pandemic. If this finding is valid it means the virus could travel farther by air than previously assumed. Currently, the virus is said to spread through air droplets from infected people. The virus-laden droplets can travel up to two metres.
It would also explain the high rate of infection in heavily polluted northern Italy. Italy has been one of the countries that were worst-affected by the pandemic with over 192,000 cases and around 26,000 deaths.
The research was headed by Leonardo Setti from Italy’s University of Bologna, who said it was important to investigate if the virus could be transported through air pollution.
Past research has shown that air pollution can carry microbes and may have been responsible for spreading other viruses, including those that cause bird flu, measles and foot and mouth disease.