In an earlier blog, we looked in detail at the evidence to date on whether vaping could make an individual more susceptible to the coronavirus or more likely to come down with serious complications. Then last week we saw the FDA reverse its official position on vaping and the coronavirus.
This week, there's an even more startling development.
A study out of Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital in Paris found that smokers were LESS likely to get coronavirus. The study looked at 343 coronavirus patients.
"Among these patients, only five percent were smokers," said Zahir Amoura, the study's lead scientist. That's in France where the rate of nicotine users is around 35%. It seems that perhaps the use of nicotine was somehow inhibiting the development of serious coronavirus symptoms.
The French study was not the first study to come across this potential protective effect of nicotine. A previous study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that only 12.6% out of a sample of 1,000 individuals infected with coronavirus in China were smokers, despite the smoking rate being far higher in the country as a whole.
Why nicotine might have a protective effect is unclear but Jean-Pierre Changeux, co-lead on the French study, speculated that nicotine could be adhering to receptors on the cell, blocking entrance to the virus and thus interfering with viral replication. The researchers plan to conduct further testing as soon as they gain regulatory approval, designing their follow up study around the use of nicotine patches to see if they show any protective effect.
Keep in mind that while this research is quite interesting it is far from conclusive. Moreover, the FDA says that smoking can increase the risk of coronavirus. Even using nicotine patches carries risk and can lead to nicotine addiction. That's probably why France, in the wake of the Paris study, has banned online sales of nicotine patches and is limiting the number people can buy at a time in person.
More investigation needs to be done before anyone acts on this info, but we'll keep an eye on this as it develops. It certainly is an intriguing theory and it's always amusing to watch anti-vaping activists' heads explode when a positive effect of nicotine is suggested!
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