Coronavirus Prevention: Can Nicotine Patches Lower Risk Of Contracting COVID-19?

Nicotine patches may soon be added to the growing list of tools that could potentially help protect people from the novel coronavirus. Researchers in Paris plan to test the compound on COVID-19 patients and frontline health workers after tobacco appeared helping reduce the risk of infection among smokers.

The effort comes after one study showed people who frequently smoked cigarettes had lower risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms because of the disease. Researchers said exposure to nicotine potentially provided the protection, the Guardian reported Wednesday

The compound might be preventing the coronavirus from reaching cells in the body and causing the disease, according to Jean-Pierre Changeux, a French neurobiologist who reviewed the study. He added nicotine could also help prevent overreaction of the immune system, which could cause more serious complications in COVID-19 patients. 

Researchers at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital already gathered data from 480 patients with coronavirus. At least 350 of the participants were hospitalized while the rest stayed at home for recovery.

Initial findings showed that only 4.4 percent of those admitted to hospital had a smoking history. Among those who were allowed to recover at home because of less severe symptoms, 5.3 percent were smokers.

“Our cross-sectional study strongly suggests that those who smoke every day are much less likely to develop a symptomatic or severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 compared with the general population,” researchers said in a report. “The effect is significant. It divides the risk by five for ambulatory patients and by four for those admitted to hospital. We rarely see this in medicine.”

However, the team noted more studies are required to confirm their findings. The next step will involve nicotine patches provided to health workers, patients with the COVID-19 virus and those in intensive care to understand how the compound directly protects the body. 

Despite the use of nicotine in the clinical study, researchers said people should not consider lighting more cigarettes to avoid the coronavirus. Smoking alone can still be deadly and even put people at higher risk of lung problems amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

cigarette and COVID-19 Researchers in Paris plan to test nicotine patches on COVID-19 patients and frontline health workers after tobacco appeared helping reduce the risk of COVID-19 among smokers. Pixabay