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Journal Articles Scientific Reports Year : 2020

A negative covariation between toxoplasmosis and CoVID-19 with alternative interpretations

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Abstract

Coronaviruses may exert severely negative effects on the mortality and morbidity of birds and mammals including humans and domestic animals. Most recently CoVID-19 has killed about half million people (27th of June, 2020). Susceptibility to this disease appears to differ markedly across different societies but the factors underlying this variability are not known. Given that prevalence of toxoplasmosis in human societies may serve as a proxy for hygiene, and it also exerts both direct and immune-mediated antiviral effects, we hypothesize a negative covariation between toxoplasmosis and measures of the CoVID-19 pandemic across countries. We obtained aged-adjusted toxoplasmosis prevalence of pregnant women from the literature. Since the differences in the CoVID-19 morbidity and mortality may depend on the different timing of the epidemics in each country, we applied the date of first documented CoVID-19 in each country as a proxy of susceptibility, with a statistical control for population size effects. Using these two indices, we show a highly significant negative co-variation between the two pandemics across 86 countries. Then, considering that the wealth of nations often co-varies with the prevalence of diseases, we introduced GDP per capita into our model. The prevalence of toxoplasmosis co-varies negatively, while the date of first CoVID-19 co-varies positively with GDP per capita across countries. Further, to control for the strong spatial autocorrelation among countries, we carried out a Spatial Structure Analyses of the relationships between the date of first CoVID-19, prevalence of toxoplasmosis, and GDP per capita. Results of this analysis did not confirm a direct causal relationship between toxoplasmosis and susceptibility to the CoVID-19 pandemics. As far as an analysis of observational data let us to suggest, it appears that the interaction between CoVID-19 and toxoplasmosis is mediated by GDP per capita and spatial effects. This prompts the question whether the formerly known covariations of CoVID-19 and BCG vaccination or air pollution might have also emerged as spurious indirect effects.
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hal-03024599 , version 1 (25-11-2020)

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Łukasz Jankowiak, Lajos Rozsa, Piotr Tryjanowski, Anders Pape Møller. A negative covariation between toxoplasmosis and CoVID-19 with alternative interpretations. Scientific Reports, 2020, ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-69351-x⟩. ⟨hal-03024599⟩
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