The COVID-19 pandemic has saved thousands of lives due to a "drop in pollution" as a result of the strict lockdown in China, experts have claimed.
So far, over 200,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide with over 8,200 deaths.
Although the pandemic has caused major economical and social disruption worldwide, the "disruption could also have unexpected health benefits", says Marshall Burke, an environmental resource economist.
China's strict lockdown measures have resulted in an improvement in air quality, which can be seen in southern cities such as Shanghai and Wuhan.
When speaking in reference to these two cities, Mr Burke said: "Wintertime pollution is mainly from cars and smaller industry, pollution declines appeared to be dramatic."
He goes on to question whether the lives saved by the improvement in air quality exceeds the deaths caused by COVID-19.
He said: "Given the huge amount of evidence that breathing dirty air contributes heavily to premature mortality, a natural – if admittedly strange – question is whether the lives saved from this reduction in pollution caused by economic disruption from COVID-19 exceeds the death toll from the virus itself.
"Even under very conservative assumptions, I think the answer is a clear ‘yes’."
When discussing the possible lives saved he said: "I calculate that having 2 months of…reductions…likely has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China."
Marshall Burke goes on to admit that his research is a reminder that maybe we need to change the way we do things.
He said: "The calculation is perhaps a useful reminder of the often-hidden health consequences of the status quo, i.e. the substantial costs that our current way of doing things exacts on our health and livelihoods.
"Might COVID-19 help us see this more clearly? In my narrow academic world –in which most conferences and academic meetings have now been cancelled due to COVID-19, and where many folks are cancelling talk invitations and not taking flights – it might be a nice opportunity to re-think our production function with regard to travel."
The decrease in pollution levels is not limited to China.
Lockdown in Venice, Italy, has left waters clearer than ever with one Venetian resident saying he has never seen it so clear.
Swans have also returned to the Italian city as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe.
Italy has been the worst-hit country outside of China with nearly 30,000 confirmed cases and 2,100 deaths.
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