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Why we cannot conclude smoking protects us from symptomatic COVID-19

Smoking does not protect us from symptomatic COVID-19
Oct 16 2020

A potential protective effect of smoking against symptomatic COVID-19 cannot be verified, according to a new JRC study.

Soon after the pandemic started, smokers got reason to believe they could feel safe of contracting symptomatic COVID-19.

Indeed, scientific publications concluded on a potential protective effect of smoking against symptomatic COVID-19.

Case studies revealed an astonishingly low number of current smokers among patients suffering from symptomatic COVID-19 compared to the general population. It led to the conclusion that smoking/nicotine uptake might have a preventive effect.

JRC scientists scrutinised the data of 25 studies to verify the validity of this conclusion.

Our findings

JRC scientists found that the number of smokers in the studied cohorts were below the number of smokers in the respective general populations.

Moreover, there are also less people with hypertension and diabetes in the studied cohorts than in the general populations. Therefore, the studied cohorts are not representative for the general populations.

Our conclusions

  • The studied cohorts are likely not representative for the respective general populations.
  • Applying prevalence data for the general population to these cohorts might bias the conclusions.

In the light of these elements, we cannot conclude that smoking offers protection from symptomatic COVID-19.

Article: Smoking and COVID-19 - A review of studies suggesting a protective effect of smoking against COVID-19