New Delhi, August 29: Amid the sharp disparity in COVID-19 fatality rate prevailing in developed and developing nations, a fresh study has put the onus on "air-conditioned premises" for increasing the mortalities. The use of AC, or heaters in some cases, blocks natural ventilation which leads to a higher indoor viral load, claimed a research published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health. COVID-19 Count Crosses 34 Lakh in India After Spike of 76,472 Cases in Past 24 Hours, Death Toll Tops 62,000.

The high viral load continues to maintain a high concentration of the COVID-19 causing virus in the upper respiratory tract, thereby increasing the chances of death of an infected person. Studies have clearly shown that the severity of COVID-19 is directly proportional to the viral load harbored in the upper respiratory tract, the researchers note.

"These factors indicate a strong association between high viral load and poor ventilation, which, in turn, leads to high mortality from COVID-19 in developed Western nations," stated the research paper co-authored by three Indian doctors - Dr Shyam Aggarwal of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr Anita Agarwal of Max Smart Superciality Hospital and Dr Shreyas Agarwal of Kasturba Medical College in Mangaluru.

"By contrast, people in low-income countries (south and southeast Asian countries) are not exposed to such viral concentrations due to their traditional lifestyle of residing in homes and working in offices with open air ventilation (partly due to lack of resources)," they further claimed.

Lack of natural ventilation also contributes to a higher transmission of the disease, the study suggested, adding that coronavirus is air-borne to an extent in a closed indoor environment. This could be the reason behind a series of cluster outbreaks reported in the world - the most recent case being the infection of 27 persons who were dining at an AC restaurant in South Korea on August 10.

"Lack of open air ventilation is a major compounding factor as the virus remains in the environment, especially on fomites, leading to regular and repeated exposure to the virus," the doctors conclude in their study, calling upon the readers to ensure adequate ventilation in packed enclosures.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 29, 2020 11:46 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website