Our team is composed of Luca Mehl, Anurag Sawarkar, and Ahnaf Rahman. We’re all high school students attending the international school of Geneva.
We chose to undertake challenge number 187 - COVID-19 and Air pollution, attempting to find whether or not Particulate Matter of coarseness 10 and 2.5, (also known as PM10 and PM2.5 levels) have any effect on the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 cases across switzerland.
We analysed about half a million data entries of historical meteorological data and covid-19 cases over the past 2 months
Our final product is a research paper with the data processing and analysis we conducted
From our research, we can conclude the following:
Regions of Switzerland exhibiting relatively elevated PM concentration during the 2 months since the first Swiss COVID-19 case will tend to contain the highest COVID-19 cases, with a correlation of 0.8
Regions with higher concentrations since 2000 were not found to suffer more cases than those with low concentrations
and finally Moderate to low evidence was found of “spikes” in PM10 concentration causing “spikes” of cover cases 2 to 14 days later.
We believe this research is important, because it allows us to statistically determine whether Swiss authorities should also focus on reducing air pollution in Swiss skies to help mitigate the spread of the virus, alongside social distancing.
After learning about the possible effect that COVID-19 has on reducing air pollution on several media outlets, we believed that it would be very interesting to engage with this claim in a manner that can be useful - after seeing this challenge on the hackathon page, we were immediately drawn to it. Although it is slightly more complex than finding the simple relationship between declining air pollution and COVID-19, we were engaged with it throughout as it concerned where we live, and our findings may have had the potential to reconsider mitigation strategies to reduce COVID-19 spread.
What we created
A comprehensive paper pertaining to assessing the validity of the claim that PM10 and PM2.5 levels the number of COVID-19 cases.
How we built it
We used Google sheets to compile and format data from official databases, and subsequently used Word to turn that formatted data into something comprehensive and conclusive.
Challenges we ran into
In many cases, there was missing data because if inconsistencies in official reporting. However, we circumvented issues like this by extrapolating data. There was also a lack of data points because Switzerland is a small country which didn't contain many weather stations that reported the amount of particulate matter. Therefore, we had to make some bold assumptions such as splitting Switzerland into 10 regions rather than cantons and assuming that the readings from a weather station displayed values which were uniform throughout the region.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Being able to compile an overwhelming amount of information to reach a conclusion which is accessible by all.
What we learned
From the report conclusion, we learnt that for the case of Switzerland, there is no correlation between increased levels of PM10 and PM2.5 in the air and the number of COVID-19 cases. Therefore, it should not be a priority on Swiss Authorities to reduce the amount of air pollution as an attempt to mitigate COVID-19 Cases. Although there is evidence suggesting PM10 and PM2.5 particulates' ability to carry viruses, in the case of Switzerland, the levels of air pollution are negligible enough to disregard PM10 and PM2.5 particulates as a cause of COVID-19 propogation, unlike air-polluted countries such as Italy.
What's next for Challenge 187: COVID19 and air pollution
If more data becomes available in the future, perhaps this claim can be revaluated to declare that this conclusion is perhaps invalid. However, as of now, this is the only conclusion that can be reached.
See the report:
See the Raw Data (a bit messy):
Try It out