The results appear to be in agreement with other studies by the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, which questioned 480 patients who tested positive for the virus.
According to their findings, among the 350 patients treated at the hospital, whose average age was 65, only 4.4 percent were ordinary smokers. Among those who were released, with an average age of 44, 5.3 percent smoked.
The French health authority Santé Publique France puts the number of smokers in the general population at 32 percent of people aged between 18 and 75 years.
“Compared to the general population of France, the Covid-19 population showed a significantly weaker daily smoking rate of 80.3 percent for outpatients and 75.4 percent for inpatients,” the researchers wrote in their study.
“Thus, current smoking status appears to be a protective factor against infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
Researchers say that “the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)” plays a key role in infection from coronaviruses and that nicotine can act to protect these receptors from attack. It can also reduce the overreaction of the immune system that has been found in the most severe cases of Covid-19 infection.
The nicotine patch clinical trial on health workers and patients is awaiting approval from the state health authority.
Health Minister Olivier Véran called the study “interesting”, adding: “We will not close the door and certainly not that.”
Smoking caused 75,000 deaths in France and researchers struggled to show that no one should take the habit as a precaution.
“People must not forget that nicotine is a harassment drug that is responsible for smoking addiction,” they wrote.
“Smoking has severe pathological consequences and remains a serious health hazard. But under controlled settings, nicotinic agents can provide efficient treatment for acute infections such as Covid-19, “they concluded.
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