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Mon May 18, 2020, 09:31 PM

Study shows fewer COVID-19 cases in high-altitude regions

Regional REGIONAL | 22h ago

Libby Stanford
Summit Daily News

People who grew up at high elevations might be less susceptible to the novel coronavirus, according to a recent study of the virus’ impact in high-altitude communities like Summit County.

The study, which was published by the “Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology” journal, compared case data for the virus among communities in Bolivia, Tibet and Ecuador and found that cities and towns in higher elevations have reported fewer COVID-19 cases.

According to Bolivia’s Ministry of Health website, La Paz, Bolivia, has reported 328 cases of the virus and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, has reported 2,300 cases as of Friday. La Paz sits 11,943 feet above sea level with a population of 2.7 million people. Santa Cruz is 1,365 feet above sea level with a population of 1.6 million people. For some context, Breckenridge is 9,600 feet above sea level.

“This is data that strongly suggests that high altitude is protective,” said Dr. Gustavo Zubieta-Calleja, director of the High Altitude Pulmonary and Pathology Institute in La Paz and one of the researchers on the study.

More:
https://www.aspentimes.com/news/regional/study-shows-fewer-covid-19-cases-in-high-altitude-regions/

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply Study shows fewer COVID-19 cases in high-altitude regions (Original post)
Judi Lynn May 2020 OP
Beakybird May 2020 #1
2naSalit May 2020 #2
CloudWatcher May 2020 #3
PoindexterOglethorpe May 2020 #5
CloudWatcher May 2020 #6
PoindexterOglethorpe May 2020 #8
PoindexterOglethorpe May 2020 #4
CloudWatcher May 2020 #7
muriel_volestrangler May 2020 #16
Warpy May 2020 #15
JustFiveMoreMinutes May 2020 #9
applegrove May 2020 #10
NNadir May 2020 #11
Igel May 2020 #12
CloudWatcher May 2020 #13
SCantiGOP May 2020 #14

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2020, 09:47 PM

1. In other words, get high!

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2020, 10:12 PM

2. And as people

flee to the mountains and crowd in, the ecosystems will crash.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2020, 10:44 PM

3. Skeptical

Yeah, I'm not sold on this yet. One of the initial hot hot spots here in Colorado was in the mountains. Après-ski was very dangerous.

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Response to CloudWatcher (Reply #3)

Mon May 18, 2020, 10:51 PM

5. But were those people who lived there year round?

The adaptation to high altitude over time may be a factor.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #5)

Mon May 18, 2020, 11:38 PM

6. Don't know.

My impression was that there were a fair number of cases among all the different types of people there ... residents and tourists alike. I would think they'd have noticed pretty quickly if only visitors were getting sick.

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Response to CloudWatcher (Reply #6)

Tue May 19, 2020, 12:40 AM

8. If, and that's a huge big if,

altitude matters, there's a great difference between people who live at altitude and those who merely visit.

In 1987 we moved from Phoenix, AZ to Golden, CO because my husband got a job that relocated us. We found a home and settled in, more or less. I was a stay at home mom so I stayed with the kids. Meanwhile my husband kept on having to go back to Phoenix to finish up jobs. So he'd be a week or less in Colorado, then a week or less in Arizona. The Colorado time was not enough to acclimate. Needless to say, he found it awful.

I did once read that men have a harder time adjusting to high altitude. I have no idea if that's accurate, and even assuming it's not, my husband's going back and forth was not at all good.

I currently live in Santa Fe, NM, at about 7,000 feet. I LOVE living at high altitude. I have no issues that make this a problem (and please understand that I am sympathetic to those who do) and absolutely thrive here. I have family and friends in the Kansas City area, and until recently would go there once or twice a year. As much as I loved visiting my family and friends, I found that as I descended into lower altitudes I noticed it. The air felt heavy. If seemed as if I couldn't breathe as freely. I'm sure that was at least 80% psychological, but still.

Chances are very high that the altitude thing is not at all important. Just like the nicotine thing. I will simply say that even if living at high altitude made the Covid19 virus far more deadly, I'd say I love living at altitude and I'll take my chances.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2020, 10:49 PM

4. Could it be that the virus doesn't survive as well at higher altitudes?

Or that people who live at higher altitudes are differently adapted than those at sea level?

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #4)

Mon May 18, 2020, 11:52 PM

7. Genetics

I'd guess this study is finding that the genetics of those that historically live at altitude are more resistant to the virus ... a genetic adaption along a much longer time frame than a few weeks (or years) in the mountains. Living at 12k is pretty brutal. I've read that normal people living at 10k or higher is just not good for them.

Or it could be that it's so bloody cold everyone is wearing gloves and face masks most of the time anyway

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Response to CloudWatcher (Reply #7)

Wed May 20, 2020, 03:02 PM

16. Are there significant genetic differences between La Paz and Santa Cruz?

Or Guayaquil and Quito in Ecuador?

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #4)

Wed May 20, 2020, 02:10 AM

15. We're near the top of the maximum UV and at altitude here

and it would be great if altitude prevented this thing, UV is a killer here in the summer, it might as well kill environmental coronaviruse, also.

Peru is a lot closer to the equator, so their maximum UV comes at the equinoxes.

I live at 6000 feet, water boils at 200F, so it's either sun screen or long sleeves for me.

I had to relearn a lot of normal lab values out here when I moved from Boston. Every value associated with red blood cells increases with altitude to increase oxygen transport in thin air. So yes, there are adaptations at altitude.

Either that, or the use of coca leaves in the Andes does some good, it's a long shot but this disease is long on weird, so who knows?

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2020, 12:54 AM

9. Let's see... Smokers (nicotine), Blood Thinners, Blood Type, Gender, Race, small family units...

.. and now higher elevations.

MAY BE less susceptible.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2020, 02:04 AM

10. Yes you have to bake things at an adjusted temperature and time yp in

the mountains. No wonder a virus behaves differenly.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2020, 10:06 AM

11. One factor that seems to have been overlooked in the original paper is...

...the hang time for aerosols at lower pressure. This may have an effect, since the tendency of droplets to remain suspended is related to viscosity, and the viscosity of air at lower pressure is lower than at sea level, and transmission depends on aerosols.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2020, 12:14 PM

12. Best to go to the source.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7175867/

Not sure about the # of cases they use; like what I think's the stronger claim that adaption to high altitude might reduce severity.

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Response to Igel (Reply #12)

Tue May 19, 2020, 02:40 PM

13. Less skeptical!

Thanks very much for the link to the source paper. The paper is short and not that difficult to read. Their conclusions appear justified and more than interesting!

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed May 20, 2020, 12:44 AM

14. At about 500 feet

I don’t think I get any protection, but our 90% humidity most of the summer is supposed to be “helpful.”

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