COVID-19: Smokers More Likely to Develop Symptoms [Video]

    • Previous studies have shared that smokers are at a reduced risk of developing Covid-19 symptoms.
    • However, recent findings published in the BMJ journal Thorax show conclusive evidence that smoking puts an individual at higher risk of severe disease, including Covid-19.
    • The study assessed data from millions of Britons using the ZOE app.

Previous Studies

As the Covid-19 pandemic progressed, experts undertook many kinds of research to know more about the virus.

Surprisingly, some studies emerged, suggesting that smokers may indeed be at a lower risk for developing Covid-19 symptoms. Moreover, a study conducted in Mexico analyzed data among 90,000 patients and found that smokers are 23% less likely to get infected with Covid-19 than non-smokers.

The idea that smokers are at a reduced risk for Covid-19 came from Artist David Hockney, which he attributes to smokers’ tougher respiratory systems because of the nicotine that can harden the bodies and immune system. He adds that Greece, who have an above-average number of smokers, had one of the lowest death tolls related to Covid-19 among European nations.

Results of earlier studies agreed with Hockney’s idea. But many experts were baffled with the results because, given the many years of research, smoking has been a major risk factor for lung cancer, stroke, diabetes and other deadly diseases.

New Findings

When the pandemic started, and there are still no studies about the virus, experts warned that smokers could be at more risk because Covid-19 affects the respiratory system. As the virus began to spread worldwide, the World Health Organization also declared that smoking could increase smokers’ likelihood of getting infected.

Recent findings now confirm that smokers are at higher risk of developing Covid-19 disease and have a higher chance of getting hospitalized after infection.

The research presents conclusive evidence collected from real-world data from millions of Britons using the Kings College London app, Zoe. Researchers found that smokers have a 14% greater likelihood of experiencing fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath, which are the three main symptoms of Covid-19. Also, smokers are at a 50% increased risk of having more than ten symptoms all at once compared to non-smokers. These symptoms can include cough, diarrhea, fever, muscle pain and loss of appetite and smell.

This recent study was published in the BMJ journal Thorax and negated previous studies’ result regarding the lesser likelihood of smokers developing Covid-19. The lead researcher of the study and a senior lecturer at Kings College London, Dr. Mario Falchi, explains that while some studies suggested that smoking has a protective effect on coronavirus, their study clearly showed that smokers are at a greater risk of developing Covid-19 symptoms than non-smokers. Among the 2.4 million Briton participants, 220, 135 or around 11% are smokers. The participants submitted personal data, and other data came from the lab. Another lead researcher and consultant physician at Kings College London, Claire Steves, shares that smoking also increases that chances of patients getting hospitalized so quitting smoking can help avoid hospitalization.

Another newer study at UCLA found that smoking can cause more cells to be infected with the virus. The study observed that smoking prevents interferons from functioning properly. Interferons send signals to infected cells to produce proteins to attack pathogens and warn uninfected cells to fight off the virus. One of the researchers, Dr. Brigette Gomperts, explains that overall, smoking reduces the immunity’s defense, allowing the virus to infect the body.

Source: Daily Mail