Recently, an article published in the journal Science of the Total Environment and authored by Zhu et al. has claimed the "Association between short-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 infection" (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138704). This note shows that the stated dependence between the diffusion of the infection and air pollution may be the result of spurious correlation due to the omission of a common factor, namely, population density. To this end, the relationship between demographic, socio-economic, and environmental conditions and the spread of the novel coronavirus in China is analyzed with spatial regression models on variables deflated by population size. The infection rate - as measured by the number of cases per 100 thousand inhabitants - is found to be strongly related to the population density. At the same time, the association with air pollution is detected with a negative sign, which is difficult to interpret.

The spread of 2019-nCoV in China was primarily driven by population density. Comment on "Association between short-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 infection: Evidence from China" by Zhu et al.

Copiello, Sergio
;
Grillenzoni, Carlo
2020-01-01

Abstract

Recently, an article published in the journal Science of the Total Environment and authored by Zhu et al. has claimed the "Association between short-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 infection" (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138704). This note shows that the stated dependence between the diffusion of the infection and air pollution may be the result of spurious correlation due to the omission of a common factor, namely, population density. To this end, the relationship between demographic, socio-economic, and environmental conditions and the spread of the novel coronavirus in China is analyzed with spatial regression models on variables deflated by population size. The infection rate - as measured by the number of cases per 100 thousand inhabitants - is found to be strongly related to the population density. At the same time, the association with air pollution is detected with a negative sign, which is difficult to interpret.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11578/296703
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