Study by PU, PGI: Pollen may lead to increased immune activation, offer protection against Covid-19

It has concluded that pollen bio-aerosols may lead to pre-modified immune activation, which seems to protect against the Covid-19 infection or its severity.

A team of experts is examining existing scientific evidence to better understand a link between pollen bioaerosols, Covid-19, meteorological parameters and anticipated risk in the severity of allergic rhinitis and asthma.

The team includes Professor of Environment Studies, Panjab University, Dr Suman Mor, Professor of Environmental Health from PGIMER Dr Ravindra Khaiwal and research scholar Akshi Goyal.

The objective of the study was based on “increasing evidences” which suggested that the coronavirus can spread via dispersal of bioaerosols from an infected person.

While it was hypothesized that airborne pollen can behave as an effective carrier for SARS-CoV-2 transport, dispersal and its proliferation and allergic rhinitis and asthmatic patients could have increased severity and susceptibility towards Covid-19, which could be one of the possible reasons for the rapid spread of virus, the study in fact found a completely opposite phenomenon.

As per the findings, researchers observed an unexpected low prevalence of Covid-19 in asthmatic and allergic rhinitis patients. “The study explains that certain types of immune-responses, accumulation of eosinophils, lower ACE-2 receptors expression, Th-2 skewed immunity and elevated histamine, immunoglobin E (IgE) serum levels and systematic steroids are the possible features of allergic diseases or asthma patients that were found to be associated with reduced severity of Covid-19,” said Dr Ravindra Khaiwal of PGIMER.

It has concluded that pollen bio-aerosols may lead to pre-modified immune activation, which seems to protect against the Covid-19 infection or its severity.

The study added, “However, the complexity of the coronavirus with aspects of bioaerosol transmission still requires further examination.”

Professor Mor said that the main objective of the study was to examine the airborne transmission of Covid-19 through pollen particles and to identify the major gaps to restrict the spread of Covid-19. She added that this is the first global study based on airborne pollen and Covid-19 aims to promote research towards a different perspective for the control of infectious diseases.

The study not only examined the direct relationship between pollen and Covid-19 but also looked at the biological and physical aspects of pollen-virus attachment, their viability and long-range transport as this could affect the transmission of Covid-19. Mor added that this study focuses on searching for every possibility to provide additional security layers to overcome future corona-like infectious diseases.

The study has also been accepted in Sustainable Cities and Society. “This breakthrough contribution will enhance the understanding of airborne pollen influence on the Covid-19 outbreak and open doors for new ideas for further research to minimize the infection and severity of it and similar infectious diseases,” said the research scholar associated with the project.

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