A person who owns a car or has a college education may be less vulnerable to COVID-19, according to a case analysis in Tehran, Iran, one of the early epicenters of the pandemic. While these variables do not inherently reduce a person’s risk, they indicate a protective infrastructure that persists despite the population density of a person’s neighborhood.
The international collaboration published its results on April 3 in Sustainable cities and society.
“Over the past few decades, there have been various efforts to increase urban density to improve efficiency and help mitigate climate change – but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought questions to the fore. ‘opportunity for compact urban development,’ said article author Ayyoob Sharifi, associate professor at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering at Hiroshima University. Sharifi is also affiliated with the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability.
Through a comprehensive analysis of data from the first months of the pandemic (through April 4 and June 27, 2020), researchers found that the demographic structure of a population – age, social and economic class, access to resources – is much more influential than just how dense a population is. However, density is markedly different from overpopulation for the resources available, the researchers said.
“We have found that what drives the spread of infectious diseases during a pandemic is overcrowding, which can occur in even sparsely populated districts,” said paper author Amir Reza Khavarian-Garmsir, assistant professor in the Department. of geography and town planning of the Faculty. geography and planning at the University of Isfahan.
While a person less likely to know or follow public health guidelines or more likely to use public transportation may be at greater risk of contracting the disease, the researchers did not find a statistically significant difference in the results. urban districts with lower income and lower age composition. – indicating that age was one of the most important risk factors for COVID-19 infection, despite the density of life.
The data was obtained from Iran’s AC-19 app, which tracks positive cases and deaths by geographic location, researchers assessed whether certain variables affected infection rates in 22 districts and around 8.6 million inhabitants of Tehran. They used structural equation modeling, which can use multiple factors to indicate the influence of unobservable variables, such as the likelihood of following public health recommendations, in combination with measurable factors, such as ease of doing. access to medical facilities.
The study has some drawbacks, the researchers said, chief among them being the availability and accuracy of the data. The pandemic evolved so rapidly in the first few months that follow-up may not give the full picture; and the shortages and cost of testing, as well as a relative absence of severe symptoms in children and young adults, can skew the number of true positive cases.
“It may be too early to draw firm conclusions, so future research should continue to study the relationship between urban density and the modes of transmission of infectious diseases,” Moradpour said.
The researchers said they hope their work will help policymakers develop guidelines that will benefit everyone when planning and preparing for a pandemic.
“The next step is to look in more detail at the impacts of urban density in other contexts,” Shafiri said. “In addition, we are trying to examine the long-term impacts of the pandemic on compact urban development policies.”
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