NZVAPOR are interested in a new French study asserting smokers could be better protected than others from the novel coronavirus because nicotine blocks its docking sites. Another study, however, suggests exactly the opposite.
Smokers are generally considered a risk group for infections with the novel coronavirus, as according to a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal, they usually contract more severe and protracted forms of the disease it causes, COVID-19, than non-smokers and die more often as a result.
However, French researchers led by Jean-Pierre Changeux, a neurobiologist at the Institut Pasteur, suspect that nicotine patches could help prevent infections with the dangerous virus. They have published a corresponding hypothesis on the science portal Qeios. They came to this conclusion because their data, which contradicts that of the Chinese study, shows that there seems to be only a small number of smokers among COVID-19 patients. The virus cannot enter the cell and cannot spread in the organism if nicotine blocks it, the researchers conclude.
However, there is no consensus among researchers that the ACE2 receptors have a blocking effect. Neurologists James L. Olds and Nadine Kabbani from Fairfax in the US state of Virginia had already published a study on the topic in The FEBS Journal on March 18.
This study suggests that nicotine, in fact, stimulates the cell receptors, meaning that viruses have even better opportunities to penetrate the cells. This could explain the particularly severe courses of the disease in smokers, the study says.
Only further research can show whether the French researchers or their US colleagues are right. Virtually all medical doctors, however, agree that tobacco smoking carries an additional risk in cases of COVID-19 disease.
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