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Coronavirus and High Altitudes

High altitude offered resistance over the severe effects of coronavirus for some populations, according to a new study. Those living at high altitude are biologically accustomed to lower blood oxygen levels, which is a fatal effect of the virus, scientists say. The adaptation lends better oxygen transport in the arteries, increased ventilation and higher tissue oxygenation.

The study was recently published in Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology.

The researchers studied COVID-19 cases in the high and lowland regions of Bolivia, Ecuador and the Tibetan region of China.

Bolivia was one of the last countries affected by the pandemic, and one-third of its territory is extended at high-altitude. Meanwhile, the pandemic deeply affects Ecuador and half of its population lives in high-altitude areas. In contrast, the peak of the epidemic is over for the Tibetan region.

Scientists say the general prevalence of COVID-19 infection in Tibet doesn’t correspond to global trends. The region’s average elevation is 4,000 meters, or about 13,000 feet.

Study authors also noted a “remarkable” “low rate of infections in Bolivia’s high-altitude population,” which managed to otherwise avoid exponential infection rates seen in many other countries. They found COVID-19 infection rates at high-altitude regions in Bolivia are about three-fold lower than lowlands, and four-fold less COVID-19 cases were in high-altitude areas of Ecuador.

Study authors noted a clear indication of lower virus impact and infection among populations living 3,000 meters, or 9,842 feet, above sea level.

Finally, researchers also found high-altitude inhabitants express reduced levels of ACE2 in their lungs, a key binding site for the virus. A drop off in ACE2 expression in pulmonary endothelial cells may have afforded these populations some protection over the virus, study authors concluded.

Researchers also theorized ultraviolet radiation at high altitude may act as a natural sanitizer.

Overall, physiological acclimatization of high-altitude inhabitants and certain environmental characteristics were concluded to reduce the virulence of SARS-CoV-2.

Original article by Fox News.

For those of you interested in learning more about, COVID-19 Pedagogy author Maureen Sullivan has written the courses COVID-19: A Healthcare Pandemic and COVID-19: A Healthcare Pandemic for Post Acute Care.

COVID-19: A Healthcare Pandemic

The purpose of this educational offering is to familiarize the healthcare professional with the issues surrounding COVID-19, a coronavirus that is currently causing a healthcare pandemic. This novel or new coronavirus was identified last year (2019), and is currently causing increasing numbers of illness and death worldwide. As this viral infection takes a financial, medical, and emotional toll on the worldwide population, it is imperative that all healthcare workers have a basic understanding of the virus, its symptoms, and transmission, and most importantly, what measures can be taken to lower the risk of infection in all areas of work and home.

COVID-19: A Healthcare Pandemic for Post Acute Care

The purpose of this educational offering is to familiarize the healthcare professional with the issues surrounding COVID-19, a coronavirus that is currently causing a healthcare pandemic. This novel or new coronavirus was identified in 2019, and is currently causing illness and death worldwide. As this viral infection takes a financial, medical, and emotional toll on the worldwide population, it is imperative that all healthcare workers have a basic understanding of the virus, its symptoms, and transmission, and most importantly, what measures can be taken to lower the risk of infection in all areas of work and home. The Post Acute Care sector cares for the most vulnerable population and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has specific guidelines for facilities to follow. This course will discuss current treatment options, basic healthcare laws as they relate to public health emergencies, healthcare provider burnout and moral injury as the pandemic persists.

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