Expert Says COVID-19 Is Also Saving Lives

COVID-19 has forced governments to make significant changes to prevent the disease from spreading. It is clear that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus can harm people, but the pandemic appears to have positive effects on the planet. 

Less than three months since its discovery in China, the effects of COVID-19 have been felt around the world. It forced government leaders to set travel restrictions, close public space and suspend business operations.

The limited presence of people outside, the reduced traffic and temporarily closed factories have significantly reduced emissions, especially in China. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, air quality has improved in the country.

Such improvement made in a short period of time could help save 77,000 people from the deadly effects of air pollution, according to a new mathematical model. 

Even before the world saw COVID-19, air pollution has been killing thousands of people around the world. Poor air quality could contribute to life-threatening conditions such as cancer and those that affect respiratory and cardiovascular health, IFLScience reported.

Marshall Burke, a professor and researcher at Stanford University, created the model showing the effects of COVID-19 on the environment. He looked into data from U.S. government sensors placed in Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing, which measure air particulate matter. 

Burke focused on data gathered between January and February, at the time when China implemented travel restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19. The researcher then compared mortality rates and reductions in air pollution in the country. 

Results showed that improved air quality helped reduce mortality for children aged five and under and for adults over 65. He estimated that a two-month improvement in air quality could help save 4,000 children and 73,000 adults in China.

However, Burke noted that his study does not suggest that COVID-19 is a good thing. He aims to help promote the positive effects of reducing pollution on human health.

“None of my calculations support any idea that pandemics are good for health,” Burke said in a blog post on G-FEED. “The effects I calculate just represent health benefits from the air pollution changes wrought by the economic disruption, and do not account for the many other short- or long-term negative consequences of this disruption on health or other outcomes; these harms likely vastly exceed any health benefits from reduced air pollution.”

Air pollution In 2014, study found that air pollution from power plants that used fossil fuels caused nearly 16,000 premature deaths in the U.S. Pixabay

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