Could Nicotine Potentially Treat The Coronavirus? Researchers Believe So
New Research Shows Nicotine May Lower Risk Of Contracting Virus
In the ongoing battle to develop an effective treatment or vaccine for the novel coronavirus, researchers are looking into every viable option possible. While there are several promising candidates currently in development, new research shows that a potential treatment may already be right in front of us.
A new study shows that nicotine may be potentially beneficial in combating the coronavirus crisis. Researchers found that smokers had significantly lower rates of infections than the rest of the population, prompting researchers to explore this connection further.
The study, from France, found that only 4.4% of 350 hospitalized and 5.3% of 130 homebound coronavirus patients were actually smokers. This staggeringly low rate is far from the 25% of the population that smokes, and begins to cast doubt on prior research attempting to conflate a connection between nicotine use and worsened coronavirus outcomes.
The authors theorize that nicotine may be preventing infection by not allowing the virus to infect cells, or by potentially preventing an immune system overreaction to the virus. In order to test this, the research team began distributing nicotine patches to both frontline workers and patients in intensive care.
Researchers in France are currently testing whether nicotine may possibly be effective in prevention of contracting the novel coronavirus. Renowned French neurologist Jean-Pierre Changeux, who reviewed the study, believes that nicotine may prevent the coronavirus from infecting cells, or may be possibly suppressing immune response to prevent an immune overreaction.
The study, from Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, surveyed 480 confirmed coronavirus patients, 350 who were hospitalized and another 150 who were allowed to remain home. Among the patients surveyed, researchers found that only 4.4% of hospitalized and 5.3% of homebound patients were smokers.
Data from the French health authority Santé Publique estimates that nearly a quarter of France’s population smokes, prompting researchers to explore the statistically significant low rate of infection among smokers. These findings confirm a previous study out of China in late March that suggested only 12.6% of 1,000 patients surveyed infected with the virus were smokers, despite estimates that up to 28% of the Chinese population smokes.
The results of this Paris public health officials are now looking to explore this connection further in a clinical trial set to distribute nicotine patches to frontline workers of the coronavirus crisis, as well as hospitalized and intensive care patients with confirmed cases of COVID. It is important to note that researchers do not condone or advocate smoking despite research indicating lower prevalence of the virus, suggesting alternative routes of administration such as patches and potentially vaping.
Harm reduction experts and public health scholars have long noted the benefits of nicotine. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School note that nicotine has positive cognitive benefits, such as improved focus and prevention of memory loss. In addition, nicotine and related compounds are currently being investigated for their potential therapeutic benefits for a variety of conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Vaping has one of the highest rates of nicotine bioavailability in comparison to any other route of administration. In an article published in the journal Science, public health experts came together to speak out against prohibitive policies and restrictive regulations targeting vaping. They note there is no evidence that vaping is harmful, and that prohibitive policies simply turn smokers back toward tobacco or black market alternatives.
In addition to the lack of risk associated with vaping, they also note that it is remarkably effective as a smoking cessation tool. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that not only is vaping more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.
Current data indicates vaping is responsible for helping thousands of adult smokers successfully quit each year. Research from University College London found that vaping helped up to 70,000 British smokers quit in a single year alone.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, there is currently zero evidence of long-term risk from vaping. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences found that not only is vaping less harmful than smoking, but there are no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged use.
Researchers have long respected and regarded the stimulant nicotine for a variety of cognitive benefits and enhancements, as well as the potential for it and derived compounds to be used in the development of novel treatments. While public health experts unanimously caution against smoking, they note reduced harm from alternative methods of consumption.
This study may help to shift the negative stigma and public perception that nicotine, and by association vaping, has. The authors note the potential for developing synthetic analogues that aren’t addictive like traditional nicotine, opening an entire field of prospective research.
What are your thoughts regarding the use of nicotine to potentially prevent contracting COVID? Do you believe this stimulant holds promise in combating the coronavirus crisis? Let us know what you think in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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