It’s astounding how researchers can up with conclusions which are bound to please some and infuriate others.
Here we are in the midst of a Pandemic and a study claiming that nicotine can fight off the Coronavirus is released by the French Institut Pasteur. This will do wonders for tobacco sales.
Predictably there is another study, this one published in the Chinese Medical Journal which reaches a totally opposite conclusion.
You be the judge.
Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 4.28.2020
According to a new French study, smokers could be better protected than others from the novel coronavirus because nicotine blocks its docking sites. Another study, however, suggests exactly the opposite.
In the past, scientists had already looked at the possibility that nicotine might also have positive effects on the body. For example, researchers studied the effect of nicotine-like substances on the treatment of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. For people with serious conditions like dementia, the benefits of nicotine were found to outweigh its disadvantages.
The results of the French study so far do not mean, however, that everyone should try to have a smoke as quickly and as often as possible.
Smokers are generally considered a risk group for infections with the novel coronavirus. According to a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal, they usually contract more severe and protracted forms of the disease it causes, COVID-19, than non-smokers and die more often as a result.
However, French researchers led by Jean-Pierre Changeux, a neurobiologist at the Institut Pasteur, suspect that nicotine patches could help prevent infections with the dangerous virus. They have published a corresponding hypothesis on the science portal Qeios.
They came to this conclusion because their data, which contradicts that of the Chinese study, shows that there seems to be only a small number of smokers among COVID-19 patients.
The study looked at around 500 COVID-19 patients, of whom 350 had been treated in hospital and 150 had a mild disease progression. Only 5% were smokers, Zahir Amoura, head of the study and professor of internal medicine, told the news agency AFP. This in turn meant there were 80% fewer smokers among the COVID-19 patients than in the general population of the same age and gender cohort.
An earlier metastudy by researchers led by Giuseppe Lippi from Verona, Italy, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, came to a similar conclusion: that smokers are no more likely to contract COVID-19 than others.
Nicotine as protection?
The French study assumes that nicotine can protect against the new coronavirus. It is based on the hypothesis “that nicotine attaches to cell receptors (ACE2) used by the coronavirus, thereby preventing the virus from attaching,” explains Changeux, who also holds a chair at the College de France.
The virus cannot enter the cell and cannot spread in the organism if nicotine blocks it, the researchers conclude. The Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris is now to investigate this finding in more detail.