Smoking can increase the risk of severe illness with COVID-19
A summary of research published in the European Respiratory Journal
Researchers writing in the European Respiratory Journal have warned that smokers could face more severe forms of COVID-19. There is currently some debate among scientists about how smoking affects the risk of developing the disease. This article focuses on whether smokers are more likely to develop worse symptoms if they do catch COVID-19.
What does the article look at?
This is a correspondence article which discusses the existing evidence, rather than providing new evidence. The authors point to studies that have drawn similar conclusions on this topic:
- A study of 8,910 COVID-19 patients across three continents found that smokers had an increased risk of dying in hospital from COVID-19.
- Another study analysed existing evidence of COVID-19 cases and found that smokers were at an increased risk of severe complications.
- The authors also highlight the World Health Organization’s message on this topic, which warns of an increased risk to smokers: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/technical-guidance/resources-for-tobacco-use-control-as-part-of-covid-19-response
The authors also consider questions that are not yet answered by the research, such as whether vaping may also pose a risk of a more severe form of COVID-19.
What do the authors conclude?
The message from this article is that smoking can increase the risk of more severe complications of COVID-19. While the evidence is unclear about whether smoking can increase the risk of catching COVID-19, the evidence is clear that smokers could face a more severe form of the disease if they do catch it. The authors state that the reaction that happens in the body when it is infected with the coronavirus can be particularly difficult for a smoker’s body to fight off as their lungs may already be damaged.
On the question of the risk for people who use electronic cigarettes, the authors state the evidence is not yet conclusive. They urge researchers to begin collecting data to help us understand more about the risks posed by other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes.
Read the original research paper
Title: Smoking, ACE-2, and COVID-19: Ongoing Controversies