The first place the SARS-COV-2 attack in the human body are our lungs. And there are no brownie points in guessing what’s the only place in our body that smoking or vaping effects. So, could there be a correlation between smokers and COVID-19?
Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey has issued a notice that lists down the potential risks that are associated with smoking or vaping and COVID-19.
In the notice, it has been clearly mentioned that smoking or vaping might put people in a high-risk category, can weaken your lungs, can damage the immune system, and may also potentially increase the risk of spreading Coronavirus.
Dr Winickoff, a professor at Harvard Medical School, was quoted by the NY Times, explaining how the virus may spread through smoking. Here's the quote:
You bring this device or cigarette to your mouth to inhale and you do so repeatedly. You touch the cartridge. You put it next to your face. You are spreading whatever is in your hand into your body. At the same time, many of my patients who smoke or vape have increased coughing or expectorating. And that’s a recipe for increased spread.
And these worries are supported by scientific evidence too. In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that Chinese coronavirus patients who smoked more were more than twice as likely to develop severe infections as those who don’t smoke.
And these are not new claims either, on 11th March, ABC News had reported that smoking could be one of the explanations for Italy’s high death toll.
The scientific reason behind the connection between smoking and COVID-19 lies in the structure of the SARS-COV-2. The virus attacks the body by attaching to a receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme-2, commonly known as ACE-2. Doctors fear that tobacco use may increase the count of ACE-2.
In India, 34.6% of adults are smokers and 14% of our adult population smokes tobacco. This might put them in a vulnerable position due amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you were looking forward to a life-threatening reason to quit smoking (not to forget the huge risk of cancer and lung infection), this just might be it.