Significance Coexposure to airborne pollen enhances susceptibility to respiratory viral infections, regardless of the allergy status. We hypothesized this could be also true for SARS-CoV-2 infections. To investigate this, we tested for relationships between SARS-CoV-2 infection rates and pollen concentrations, along with humidity, temperature, population density, and lockdown effects. Our unique dataset derives from 130 sites in 31 countries and across five continents. We found that pollen, sometimes in synergy with humidity and temperature, explained, on average, 44% of the infection rate variability. Lockdown halved infection rates under similar pollen concentrations. As we cannot completely avoid pollen exposure, we suggest wide dissemination of pollen−virus coexposure information to encourage high-risk individuals to wear particle filter masks during high springtime pollen concentrations.

 

 

Berezovska [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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Citation: Athanasios DamialisStefanie GillesMikhail SofievViktoria SofievaFranziska KolekDaniela BayrMaria P. PlazaVivien Leier-WirtzSigrid KaschubaLewis H. ZiskaLeonard BieloryLászló MakraMaria del Mar TrigoCOVID-19/POLLEN study groupClaudia Traidl-Hoffmann