The role of the environment and human behavior in transmission and severity of COVID-19

  • Omrani, Hichem (PI)
  • Nguyen, Nhien (Non Contracting Partner)
  • Parmentier, Benoit (Non Contracting Partner)

Project Details


Based on superficial inspection and anecdotal evidence, there appears to be a close correlation between being a hotspot area for COVID-19 prevalence or severity on one hand and air pollution on the other hand. For instance, the highest COVID-19 prevalence region in Italy (Lombardy) is also one of the most polluted areas of the country. This apparent correlation has led some researchers to hypothesise that air pollution may play a causal role in increasing COVID-19 transmission and severity. While such a link is plausible, as COIV-19 is a respiratory disease and as there are well-established links between long-term air pollution exposure and other respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), the mere correlation between the two (even if that was a robust finding), cannot be interpreted as credible evidence to support causal claims. In this project, we start by exploring the interrelationship between air pollution and COVID-19 more rigorously, by using novel, real-time satellite data, combined with COVID-19 prevalence and mortality data, for a global sample of countries. This is important as it may begin to inform policy decisions in the context of a potential exit strategy from comprehensive social-distancing policies.
StatusNot started


  • COVID-19 transmission
  • Environment
  • Human behavior
  • Lockdown
  • Social distancing
  • Big data analytics
  • Remite sensing
  • Social media