A new research in France suggests that nicotine could protect people from contracting the COVID-19 virus. Further trials are scheduled to be tested and determine whether nicotine could be used to prevent or treat the pandemic outbreak.
Researchers at a top hospital in Paris examined 343 COVID-19 patients and 139 patients with illness who showed milder symptoms and their findings showed that a low number of them smoked compared to the 35 percent smoking rates in France's general population.
"Among these patients, only five percent were smokers," said Zahir Amoura, the study's co-author and a professor of internal medicine.
Similarly, the New England Journal of Medicine last month suggested that 12.6 percent of 1,000 COVID-19 infected people were smokers in China which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), was a much lower figure than the count of regular smokers in the country with about 26 percent.
According to a renowned neuro-biologist Jean-Pierre Changeux's theory from France's Pasteur Institut, nicotine could adhere to cell receptors ad block the virus from entering the cells and spreading in the body.
While the researchers await approval from health authorities in France to conduct further trials, their plan is to use nicotine patches on health workers at an hospital in Paris to clarify whether it protects them from the virus or not.
Amoura also mentioned that the nicotine patches were also used on hospitalised patients to check whether their symptoms reduce or not.
But with tobacco being the number one killer in France, with an estimated 75,000 deaths per year linked to smoking, researchers are not encouraging people to start smoking or using nicotine patches as a protective measure against the virus.
With over 21,000 deaths and 1,55,000 reported infections, France is one of the hardest hit countries by COVID-19 in Europe after Italy and Spain.