Smokers Less Likely to Catch COVID-19, Shows New Israeli Study

Israeli researchers looked at data from over 3 million people for their study.
Fabienne Lang

According to new research, smokers are less likely to contract the coronavirus. A new Israeli study adds to previous research into the matter, such as this French study that also agreed on nicotine as a possible way to keep COVID-19 at bay.

It's an interesting discovery, especially as a previous British study had found the opposite was true. 

The Israeli study was published in non-peer reviewed journal medRxiv on Friday.


Smokers less likely to pick up the virus

Experts in Israel have reached the conclusion that smokers are less likely to pick up COVID-19. As per the Jerusalem Post's report, the Israeli team led by Dr. Ariel Israel carried out a population-based study gathering data from more than three million adult members of the Clalit Health Service, Israel's largest healthcare provider.

The team ensured to take into account ethnicity, gender, age, pre-existing medical conditions, as well as smoking status of all participants. Around 114,500 people in the data were given a COVID-19 test, 4,537 of which tested positive for the virus.

Their results showed "the risk of infection by COVID-19 appears to be reduced by half among current smokers."

The study further explained "This intriguing finding may reveal unique infection mechanisms present for COVID-19 which may be targeted to combat the disease and reduce its infection rate."

The team found out that 10% of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 smoked, compared with 19% of the general population. What the researchers believe is that nicotine, the addictive part of tobacco found in cigarettes, competes with the virus to bind with cells in the body. Thus, the virus is blocked from entering the system. 

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Some scientists, which include those in the earlier French study, believe that nicotine could be a legitimate way of preventing and treating COVID-19

Earlier studies carried out in France, China, and the U.S. also found similar results, as per a report in the Daily Mail.

It has to be noted, though, that this new Israeli study has yet to be peer-reviewed and fully proven.

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