India Crypto Exchange

Best Bitcoin Trading Platform

Tag Archive : the World Health Organization

Air pollution: Covid-hit Bulgaria faces compound risk

SOFIA: As the winter smog season in Bulgaria arrives, experts are concerned over a “perfect storm” of health risks: the country’s high air pollution and the coronavirus — in a country with one of Europe’s highest Covid-19 death rates.

The danger is particularly acute given that several times last month the Bulgarian capital Sofia ranked as the world’s most polluted city according to the Swiss IQAir air quality monitoring website.

As the temperature drops, the air above the capital Sofia has acquired its usual winter-time smoky grey hue, thanks in part to the surrounding mountains, which trap the air.

“When you look down at the city from Mount Vitosha it resembles a greyish lake of dirt and we are reluctant to go back down,” says 39-year-old IT specialist Georgy Pavlov.

Long before the pandemic, he says, he started wearing a mask with a filter simply to walk his dog.

Ina Hristova, a 28-year-old biology researcher also dons a mask for a stroll in a Sofia park: not just because of the virus, but all the dust in the air, she says.

A gauze cloth covers her baby’s pram.

Air-quality maps of Sofia have once more been going viral on social media, angering people in the European Union’s poorest country.

Environment ministry data confirmed that in November, on the days IQAir recorded its worst readings, the 24-hour concentration of (PM10) fine dust particles was four times the World Health Organization recommended limit.

Last week, the European Commission referred Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice, over what it said was its systematic failure to meet the PM10 limits. It had already failed to respond to a 2017 court judgement against it, the Commission noted.

A recent Sofia city council study identified the main culprits as dust, wood- and coal-burning stoves and car traffic. In poorer neighbourhoods, car tyres, old furniture or plastics are still burned for heating.

Several recent studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution combined with coronavirus makes Bulgarians extremely vulnerable, say experts.

“Practically there isn’t any organ or system in the body that is not impacted by fine-particle air pollution,” lung specialist Alexander Simidchiev told AFP.

The pollution can not only undermine the immune system’s response to the Covid-19 virus but also aggravate the illness, he said.

Air pollution could even help spread the virus, attaching itself to the particles, he added.

“If you look at the air pollution map of Europe, there are two or three real hotspots of air pollution, and those were also hotspots for Covid.

“So it’s very difficult to fail to notice the association between the air pollution map and the Covid severity map.”

Between November 27 and December 3 the country suffered its deadliest week since the start of the pandemic with 980 deaths for a population of under 7 million: one of the highest Covid-19 death rates.

“If air pollution has made people vulnerable through chronic illnesses, the virus tends to get rid of them,” said Simidchiev.

The government, initially reticent to impose harsh anti-virus measures, finally imposed new restrictions on November 27, closing restaurants, schools and shopping malls.

But already, between 15,000 and 18,000 people die every year because of air pollution, says Simidchiev.

A high smoking rate and underfunded and understaffed pulmonology departments have helped create “a perfect storm around lung health in our country”, laid bare by the virus.

Italy’s pollution ‘persistently’ breaks EU law: Court

BRUSSELS : Italy has “persistently and systematically” breached EU rules against small-particle air pollution, the European Court of Justice found Tuesday in a ruling supporting legal action by Brussels against Rome.

“Daily and annual limit values for PM10 particulate matter were very regularly exceeded” in zones highlighted by the European Commission in an infringement procedure launched two years ago, the court said in a statement.

Further, “the Italian Republic has manifestly failed to adopt in good time the measures” required under the EU’s Air Quality Directive, which aims to reduce unhealthy pollution in Europe’s air.

PM10 refers to the size of particulate matter in the air, with the number indicating how many microns, or tiny units of measurement, with one micron equalling 1000th of a millimetre in diameter.

The World Health Organization says air pollution of particles smaller than 10 microns can lodge in the lungs, and those smaller than 2.5 microns cause heightened mortality due to cardiovascular and respiratory disease and cancers.

The European Environment Agency estimates that 374,000 premature deaths occur annually in the EU from pollution with particles smaller than 2.5 microns.

The European Commission infringement process against Italy could result in fines being levied.

Several other EU countries are also in Brussels’ sights for air pollution.

The European Court of Justice last year found France to be in breach of the Air Quality Directive for nitrogen dioxide levels, and last month the European Commission took Paris to court for fine particle air pollution.

Poland, too, was rapped by the court in 2018 for exceeding fine-particle levels.

Air pollution: Covid-hit Bulgaria faces compound risk

SOFIA: As the winter smog season in Bulgaria arrives, experts are concerned over a “perfect storm” of health risks: the country’s high air pollution and the coronavirus — in a country with one of Europe’s highest Covid-19 death rates.

The danger is particularly acute given that several times last month the Bulgarian capital Sofia ranked as the world’s most polluted city according to the Swiss IQAir air quality monitoring website.

As the temperature drops, the air above the capital Sofia has acquired its usual winter-time smoky grey hue, thanks in part to the surrounding mountains, which trap the air.

“When you look down at the city from Mount Vitosha it resembles a greyish lake of dirt and we are reluctant to go back down,” says 39-year-old IT specialist Georgy Pavlov.

Long before the pandemic, he says, he started wearing a mask with a filter simply to walk his dog.

Ina Hristova, a 28-year-old biology researcher also dons a mask for a stroll in a Sofia park: not just because of the virus, but all the dust in the air, she says.

A gauze cloth covers her baby’s pram.

Air-quality maps of Sofia have once more been going viral on social media, angering people in the European Union’s poorest country.

Environment ministry data confirmed that in November, on the days IQAir recorded its worst readings, the 24-hour concentration of (PM10) fine dust particles was four times the World Health Organization recommended limit.

Last week, the European Commission referred Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice, over what it said was its systematic failure to meet the PM10 limits. It had already failed to respond to a 2017 court judgement against it, the Commission noted.

A recent Sofia city council study identified the main culprits as dust, wood- and coal-burning stoves and car traffic. In poorer neighbourhoods, car tyres, old furniture or plastics are still burned for heating.

Several recent studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution combined with coronavirus makes Bulgarians extremely vulnerable, say experts.

“Practically there isn’t any organ or system in the body that is not impacted by fine-particle air pollution,” lung specialist Alexander Simidchiev told AFP.

The pollution can not only undermine the immune system’s response to the Covid-19 virus but also aggravate the illness, he said.

Air pollution could even help spread the virus, attaching itself to the particles, he added.

“If you look at the air pollution map of Europe, there are two or three real hotspots of air pollution, and those were also hotspots for Covid.

“So it’s very difficult to fail to notice the association between the air pollution map and the Covid severity map.”

Between November 27 and December 3 the country suffered its deadliest week since the start of the pandemic with 980 deaths for a population of under 7 million: one of the highest Covid-19 death rates.

“If air pollution has made people vulnerable through chronic illnesses, the virus tends to get rid of them,” said Simidchiev.

The government, initially reticent to impose harsh anti-virus measures, finally imposed new restrictions on November 27, closing restaurants, schools and shopping malls.

But already, between 15,000 and 18,000 people die every year because of air pollution, says Simidchiev.

A high smoking rate and underfunded and understaffed pulmonology departments have helped create “a perfect storm around lung health in our country”, laid bare by the virus.

Vaccine alliance raises $2 billion to buy COVID shots for poor nations

LONDON/GENEVA: A facility set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GAVI vaccine group has exceeded an interim target of raising more than $2 billion to buy and distribute COVID-19 shots for poorer countries, but said it still needs more.

The GAVI alliance said on Friday that the funds for an advance market commitment (AMC) will allow the COVAX facility to buy an initial one billion vaccine doses for 92 eligible countries which would not otherwise be able to afford them.

“We’ve seen sovereign and private donors from across the world dig deep and help meet this target,” GAVI chief Seth Berkley told reporters, adding that there was an “urgent need” to also finance treatments and diagnostics.

Berkley said $3 billion was still needed for diagnostics and $6.1 billion for therapeutics by the end of 2020.

Another $5 billion will also be needed in 2021 to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses as they come through development and are approved by regulators, GAVI said in a statement.

U.S. drugmaker

Pfizer

and its partner BioNTech , who this week said their experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective in initial trials, had expressed an interest in supplying doses to the COVAX facility, Berkley said.

“We continue to advance negotiations with a number of manufacturers in addition to those we’ve already announced who share our vision of fair and equitable distribution of vaccines,” he added.