A research study in a French hospital has found that smokers are less vulnerable to the coronavirus than non-smokers.
These findings have caused a call for a trial on the effectiveness of nicotine patches against COVID-19.
The trial would involve a number of healthcare workers wearing nicotine patches and their response to coronavirus infection would be monitored and recorded; it is currently awaiting approval from the French health authority.
The study was conducted in Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, where 480 patients who tested positive for COVID-19, were questioned as to whether they smoke or not.
The median age for the hospitalized group was 65, with over 4% of these patients claiming to be regular smokers. Among those sent home, the median age was 44 and only 5.3% smoked
The effect of nicotine
“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 Pitié-Salpêtrière report authors wrote.
French neurobiologist, Jean-Pierre Changeux, reviewed the study and suggested the nicotine might stop the virus from reaching cells in the body preventing its spread.
Nicotine may also lessen the overreaction of the body’s immune system that has been found in the most severe cases of COVID-19 infection, according to Changeux.