A French study suggests that smokers could be less at risk of catching the coronavirus — and researchers now want to test nicotine patches on patients and health care workers.
Despite their findings, the researchers at a major Paris hospital insisted they are not encouraging folks to take up smoking, which carries severe health risks — including if a smoker does become infected with COVID-19.
Instead, they are probing whether the nicotine in cigarettes specifically plays a part in stopping smokers from catching the illness — and therefore could help protect patients and frontline health workers.
Their study looked at 480 COVID-19 positive patients at the Pitié-Salpêtrière medical facility, 350 of whom were hospitalized while the rest, with less serious symptoms, were sent home, The Guardian reported.
Of those admitted to the hospital, with a median age of 65, only 4.4% were regular smokers. And of the released patients, with a median age of 44, 5.3% smoked.
Accounting for age and sex, the researchers found that the number of smokers among their patients was much lower than that in the general French population.
“Our cross-sectional study strongly suggests that those who smoke every day are much less likely to develop a symptomatic or severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 compared with the general population,” the researchers wrote.