COVID-19 has spread in all continents in a span of just over three months, escalating into a pandemic that poses several humanitarian as well as scientific challenges. We here investigated the geographical expansion of the infection and correlate it with the annual indexes of air quality observed from the Sentinel-5 satellite orbiting around China, Italy and the U.S.A. Controlling for population size, we find more viral infections in those areas afflicted by Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Higher mortality was also correlated with poor air quality, namely with high PM2.5, CO and NO2 values. In Italy, the correspondence between poor air quality and SARS-CoV-2 appearance and induced mortality was the starkest. Similar to smoking, people living in polluted areas are more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infections and induced mortality. This further suggests the detrimental impact climate change will have on the trajectory of future epidemics.