French study suggests smoking may lower risk of coronavirus

PARIS: A French study suggests that smoking may lower the risk of coronavirus due to substance present in tobacco which is more likely the nicotine.

A controversial study by researchers in Paris at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital suggests tobacco may stop smokers from catching the deadly virus.

French researchers are now planning to test nicotine patches on COVID-19 patients. The clinical trials of nicotine patches will be carried out after the approval from the countries health authorities.

While the nicotine may protect from COVID-19, it is not encouraged to take up smoking due to its other potential health hazards.

Nicotine may help prevent the spread of the virus but the smokers who do catch COVID-19 develop more serious symptoms due to toxic effect of tobacco on the lungs.

The team at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital carried out their study on the group of 480 patients who tested positive for the COVID-19. Out of this group, 350 were hospitalized, and remaining with the less serious conditions were sent home.

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The researchers found out after questing those admitted in the hospital:

  • Patients whose median age was 65, 4.4% were regular smokers
  • The released patients whose median age was 44, 5.3% smoked.
  • The daily smokers’ rate in the French population is 25.4%

The researchers after studying the age and sex of the patients discovered the number of smokers was much lower than in the general population.

the French health authority Santé Publique France estimates 40% for age 44-53 and 8.8% and 11.3% for age 65-67.

The renowned French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux has suggested the substance present in tobacco which is more likely the nicotine might stop the virus from reaching the cell and prevent the spread. He also suggested nicotine may also lessen the overreaction of the immune system, which is noticed in the most severe cases of the virus infection.

The findings will be further varified in the clinical study, where the patients in intensive care will be given nicotine patches.

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Similar study in China

Similar Chinese study published in the New England journal of Medicine at the end of March showed 12.6% of 1,000 COVID-19 patients were smokers, whereas 28% of the Chinese population were smokers.

Similarly 254% of French population is smoker while 8.5% of the 11,000 COVID-19 patient admitted in the hospital were smokers.

It was concluded from this finding that those who are daily smokers are less likely to catch a symptomatic or severe infection from the virus.

These findings however goes against previous finds which suggested smoking increases the risk of coronavirus.

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