Climate Change and COVID-19

Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 & Climate Change

  • With climate change, we can expect more epidemics of diseases endemic to Canada, and possible introduction of new diseases56.
  • Many of the root causes of climate change, such as deforestation and loss of animal habitat, also increase the risk of pandemics, such as the coronavirus. Habitat loss forces animals to migrate, increasing the risk of transmission of infectious diseases from animals to animals and animals to humans57.

Air Pollution, COVID-19 and Climate Change

  • Exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections and pneumonia. This puts people exposed to higher levels of air pollution at greater risk of becoming ill with COVID-19 and experiencing the most severe outcomes58.

Heat Illness, COVID-19 and Climate Change

  • COVID-19 increases heat health risks for many people. People who are most vulnerable to both COVID-19 and heat-illness include seniors, people with underlying physical and mental health conditions, people who are marginalized and isolated (experiencing homelessness, migrants with language barriers, old people living alone) and those with low income or inadequate housing59.

Inequities, COVID-19 and Climate Change

  • Recent studies from the United States have shown that people with chronic health conditions, lower-income, and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by both COVID-19 and climate change60.
  • Neighbourhoods in Ontario experiencing the highest levels of material deprivation (connected to poverty and a proxy for the ability of individuals and communities to attain basic needs for daily living such as income and quality housing) experience disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 and related hospitalizations and deaths compared to neighbourhoods experiencing lower levels of material deprivation. The rate of COVID-19 infections in the neighbourhoods experiencing the highest levels of material deprivation was almost two times higher than the rate in the neighbourhoods experiencing lower levels of material deprivation61.
  • The most ethno-culturally diverse neighbourhoods in Ontario, primarily those concentrated in large urban areas, are experiencing disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 and related deaths compared to neighbourhoods that are the less diverse. The rate of COVID-19 infections in the most diverse neighbourhoods was three times higher than the rate in the least diverse neighbourhoods62. Ethnic concentration of an area is used as a proxy for structural racism and discrimination63.

References available here