A study in France suspects the risk of active smokers contracting the corona virus 2019 or COVID-19 is lower than the general population. To prove the allegation, the researchers are now directly testing nicotine in patients with the virus infection and medical staff treating patients.
The researchers, who worked in a number of large hospitals in Paris, clarified that they did not intend to encourage smoking. This habit is claimed to bring severe health risks for smokers, including if he has been infected with COVID-19.
What you want to examine is whether nicotine has a special role to make active smokers avoid the disease that is spreading the pandemic. The ultimate goal is to find ways to help protect patients and medical staff.
They conducted a study of 480 positive COVID-19 patients at the Pitie-Salpetriere medical facility. 350 of them were hospitalized while the rest, with less serious symptoms, were sent home to be treated.
Those who were hospitalized had a median age of 65 years and only 4.4 percent were smokers. Patients who were discharged had a median age of 44 years, 5.3 percent of whom smoked.
Calculating age and sex, the researchers found that the number of smokers was far lower than the general population among the patients studied. The results were obtained based on a cross-sectional study that said those who smoke every day are far less likely to develop symptoms or severe infections of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
“The effect is significant. This divides the risk into one-fifth for outpatients and a quarter for those who are hospitalized,” the researchers wrote, as quoted from the New York Post page, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. “We rarely see this in medicine,” they added.
Neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux, who reviewed the study, suspects that nicotine in tobacco can prevent viruses from reaching cells and stop their spread. However, for those already infected – the virus made it to the cells – the symptoms that develop can be more serious because of the toxic effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs.
Now, scientists will try to verify their findings in clinical studies using nicotine patches (absorbed through the skin), awaiting approval from the French health authority.