Extract of story by Manu Ureste, Animal Politico, April 28. 2020
[A French study, “A nicotinic hypothesis for Covid-19 with preventive and therapeutic implications,” (in English here) suggested a possible use for nicotine in anti-coronavirus therapy.
Mexican medical experts are dubious]:
“As doctors, we have a lot of solid evidence that a smoker’s lung is unhealthy. Therefore, it is highly implausible that, if tobacco puts you at risk for everything, that there is something it can protect you against – much less a lung infection. That, right away, makes us especially skeptical about this study’s results,” Uri Torruco, infectious disease specialist and a graduate of the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition.
He points out that “the results are only a hypothesis. But hypotheses have to be proved, and that requires months of intense research.”
As for the data gathered by the French researchers – that in the hospital where the study was conducted only five percent of infected patients were smokers – Dr. Torruco notes that collecting information from patients is no simple task. Hence, there could be errors in the patient data that would explain the extremely low percentage.
“In general, when a patient enters a hospital in critical condition, he is highly stressed, worried, and ill. It is not easy to gather highly detailed and precise information at that time,” the doctor says.
For his part, Dr. Jorge Baruch, director of the Travel Medicine Clinic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), emphasizes that other studies exist which conclude that patients who smoke, or who smoked for years, are more likely to face more severe symptoms if they become infected with the coronavirus.
A scientific study (here in Spanish) indicates that, according to research on 1,099 cases in Wuhan, China, the risk of serious illness was 1.4 times greater for smokers. And smokers were 2.4 times more likely to require admission to an ICU, or to need a ventilator.
Mexican federal health officials have also emphasized that tobacco has no positive anti-coronavirus effects. They, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, include tobacco use, along with diabetes and obesity, as among the risk factors for severe complications from coronavirus infection.
In the words of Assistant Health Ministry Hugo López Gatell, at an evening press conference on March 25 (transcript in Spanish here), “Cigarettes produce no beneficial result against any disease, and that applies to vaping and electronic cigarettes as well.”
In fact, the federal official cited the Wuhan studies’ conclusions that smoking leads to higher risk of complications from Covid-19, even if the patient had no previouis chronic lung disease before.
“I emphasize that smoking is highly counter-productive in Covid-19 cases,” López Gatell said.