Document Type : Commentary

Authors

1 PhD, Bevelacqua Resources, Richland, Washington 99352, United States

2 MD, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 MD, Department of Radiation Oncology Edward Hines Jr VA Hospital Hines, Illinois, United States

4 MD, Department of Radiation Oncology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, Chicago, IL, United States

5 PhD, Department of Medical Physics and Engineering, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

Abstract

We have previously reported that during future space missions the risk of severe COVID-19 infection will be a cardinal issue that needs careful attention. Our studies show that even with the most reliable pre-mission screening and quarantine strategies, astronauts with a latent (hidden, inactive, or dormant) SARS-CoV-2 infection might be sent to space. Given this consideration, an asymptomatic individual with dormant SARS-CoV-2 infection may successfully pass all the pre-launch medical tests. Then during a space mission such as a journey to Mars or beyond, when the immune system of these astronauts starts to weaken, the dormant infection may progress to a severe infection that possibly affects the chance of the mission’s success. The effects of microgravity and the elevated space radiation are two key factors that should be evaluated. Furthermore, the limited size of the spacecraft, the proximity of crew members during flight operations, spacecraft atmospheric composition, limited exercise capability, effects of viral response to space radiation, and uncertainty in the likelihood of the virus to mutate and evolve during a space mission merit additional study.

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