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The coronavirus pandemic has not only gripped the scientific community in the search for a vaccine or a cure but also in attempts using statistics and association analysis—to identify environmental factors that increase its potency. A study by Ogen (Sci Total Environ 726:138605, 2020a) explored the possible correlation between coronavirus fatality and high nitrogen dioxide exposure in four European countries—France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Meanwhile, another study showed the importance of nitrogen dioxide along with population density in determining the coronavirus pandemic rate in England. In this follow-up study, Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) was introduced in conjunction with other variables like nitrogen dioxide and population density for further analysis in fifty-four administrative regions of Germany, Italy and Spain. The AOD values were extracted from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard the Terra and Aqua satellites while the nitrogen dioxide data were extracted from TROPOMI (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument) sensor onboard the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite. Regression models, as well as multiple statistical tests were used to evaluate the predictive skill and significance of each variable to the fatality rate. The study was conducted for two periods: (1) pre-exposure period (Dec 1, 2019–Feb 29, 2020); (2) complete exposure period (Dec 1, 2019–Jul 1, 2020). Some of the results pointed towards AOD potentially being a factor in estimating the coronavirus fatality rate. The models performed better using the data collected during the complete exposure period, which showed higher AOD values contributed to an increased significance of AOD in the models. Meanwhile, some uncertainties of the analytical results could be attributed to data quality and the absence of other important factors that determine the coronavirus fatality rate.


This article was originally published in Earth Systems and Environment, volume 4, in 2020.

This scholarship is part of the Chapman University COVID-19 Archives.

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