Scientific evidence suggests that Saharan dust intrusions in Southern Europe contribute to the worsening of multiple pathologies and increase the concentrations of particulate matter (PM) and other pollutants. However, few studies have examined whether Saharan dust intrusions influence the incidence and severity of COVID-19 cases. To address this question, in this study we carried out generalized linear models with Poisson link between incidence rates and daily hospital admissions and average daily concentrations of PM10, NO2, and O3 in nine Spanish regions for the period from February 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The models were adjusted by maximum daily temperature and average daily absolute humidity. Furthermore, we controlled for trend, seasonality, and the autoregressive nature of the series. The variable relating to Saharan dust intrusions was introduced using a dichotomous variable, NAF, averaged across daily lags in ranges of 0–7 days, 8–14 days, 14–21 days, and 22–28 days. The results obtained in this study suggest that chemical air pollutants, and especially NO2, are related to the incidence and severity of COVID-19 in Spain. Furthermore, Saharan dust intrusions have an additional effect beyond what is attributable to the variation in air pollution; they are related, in different lags, to both the incidence and hospital admissions rates for COVID-19. These results serve to support public health measures that minimize population exposure on days with particulate matter advection from the Sahara.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the ENPY 221/20 Project grant from the Carlos III Institute of Health. This financing has been granted to Julio Díaz and Cristina Linares.
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.
- Hospital admissions
- Saharan Dust