Scientists will test whether nicotine protects against coronavirus infection
24 April , 17:42
Science
In France, a study is beginning examining the version that smokers tolerate COVID-19 more easily. However, doctors do not advise people to use tobacco as a preventive measure.

Irina Ziganshina

The idea of the study, which Fr24 News writes about, arose in French doctors after a phenomenon was discovered in the Salpetriere hospital in Paris, which accepts patients with COVID-19: less than 5% of 480 patients with coronavirus were smokers. This fact has attracted attention, because in France smokes about 25% of the population.

“Our cross-sectional study convincingly shows that smokers every day are much less likely to develop symptomatic or severe infections with SARS-CoV-2 compared to the general population,” Salpetriere Hospital doctors say.

The fact that smoking can somehow protect against coronavirus has already been written: last month, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors of which calculated: out of 1000 people infected in China, only 12.6% regularly smoked , while smokers in China are about 26%.

As an explanation for this effect, French doctors put forward the version that nicotine can adhere to cell receptors, thereby blocking the penetration of the virus into cells and its spread in the body. It is also possible that nicotine helps prevent a “cytokine storm” - an over-reaction of the immune system, which may play a key role in fatal cases of COVID-19.

A clinical study, if approved by the French Ministry of Health, is planned to be carried out in the same Salpetriere hospital: nicotine patches will be applied to medical workers who are at the forefront of the struggle, as well as to patients, including those from intensive care units.

At the same time, researchers insist that smoking should not be perceived by people as a way of prevention: smokers often tolerate COVID-19 very hard, because due to the toxic effects of tobacco smoke, their lungs are an easy target for the virus. In order not to get side effects and addiction, in no case should those who do not smoke use nicotine substitutes.