Vulnerability to COVID-19 May Increase with Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides

February 4, 2021 | A review in Food and Chemical Toxicology suggests organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) may increase the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to cause Covid-19, especially among vulnerable individuals with underlying medical conditions. Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses that make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contaminating both terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) environments. However, OPs are highly toxic, originating from the same compounds as World War II nerve agents. Moreover, OPs are one of the leading causes of poisoning globally. Therefore, it is vital to understand how OP exposure will impact human health in conjunction with other immunologically compromising diseases like Covid-19. Considering Covid-19 and OP exposure act similarly on the respiratory system, exacerbating adverse inflammatory responses, reviews like these highlight the significance of evaluating synergism between disease and toxic chemicals to safeguard human health. Researchers in the study note, “To curb SARS-CoV-2 infection, a healthy immune system is obligatory despite potent vaccine to alleviate morbidities in patients. But unintentional exposure to OP compounds from several sources can rupture the antiviral defense against SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, respiratory ailments may also be fueled by OP compounds. Hence, SARS-CoV-2 mediated morbidities and fatalities could be backed by unintentional exposure to OPs in patients.” [Rajak, Prem et al. Immunotoxic role of organophosphates: An unseen risk escalating SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 149:112007, 2021.]