Smoking vs Covid-19; non-urgent treatments; loneliness surveys; Southampton update, covid and the law. April 28, 2020

from Inside Health· ·

It's well established that the best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit. Smoking contributes to many of the underlying conditions that undermine recovery from coronavirus and it is pretty clear that a coronavirus patient who smokes will likely have a worse outcome than one who doesn't. The FDA in the US recently went so far as to suggest smoking might increase the risk of contracting the virus at all. Nevertheless, existing data coming from various studies of patients around the world appear to show smaller numbers of smokers amongst the hospitalized cases than might be expected …



It's well established that the best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit. Smoking contributes to many of the underlying conditions that undermine recovery from coronavirus and it is pretty clear that a coronavirus patient who smokes will likely have a worse outcome than one who doesn't. The FDA in the US recently went so far as to suggest smoking might increase the risk of contracting the virus at all. Nevertheless, existing data coming from various studies of patients around the world appear to show smaller numbers of smokers amongst the hospitalized cases than might be expected from local smoking populations. There are fewer smokers than there should be in the data. But why? As the University of Edinburgh and CRUK's Prof Linda Bauld tells Claudia, there may be several simple reasons for this, such as data gathering - that patients' smoking status is going unrecorded or unverified. But a study last week from France goes so far as to suggest that nicotine itself, know to disrupt some of the receptors viruses use to enter cells, may be conferring some kind of a protection. It is just a hypothesis, but while the dangers of smoking tobacco still stand, studies on Covid-19 patients using nicotine patches might be worthwhile. And if you are trying to quit, nicotine replacement therapy might be an even better idea just now than was thought. Inside Health's resident GP Dr Margaret McCartney talks of her concerns for NHS non-urgent treatments being side-lined under the current virus squeeze, and some of her hopes for the future. Professor Pamela Qualter and Dr Margarita Panayioutou describe why lockdown is an important time to do more psychological research into the effects of loneliness and other responses while we have the chance. And in this week's update from Southampton General, where Inside Science's Erika Wright has been speaking to frontline health workers every week, Mr Robert Wheeler, a surgeon and clinical law expert muses on some of the legal aspects of our coronavirus response.