Smoking is likely to worsen the already existing woes of COVID-19 and increase the chances of death from the virus, a new study has found.
Researchers in the University of Oxford merged both observational and genetic data and found that smokers were 80 per cent more likely to get hospitalised and significantly more likely to die from the infection, Times Now reported.
At the beginning of the pandemic, several studies reported a lower prevalence of active smokers among COVID patients admitted to the hospital than in the general population. However, after the virus became more dangerous and widespread, many smokers became more vulnerable to the disease.
Genetic Predisposition Linked To 45% Infection
Published online in the respiratory journal Thorax, the results showed that a genetic predisposition to smoking was linked with a 45 per cent higher risk of infection and a 60 per cent higher risk of hospitalisation for the COVID-19 virus.
It also revealed that a genetic predisposition to smoke more heavily was associated with more than doubling the risk of getting an infection, a five-fold surge in the risk of hospital admission, and a 10-fold increase in the risk of death from COVID-19.
"Our results strongly suggest that smoking is related to the risk of a patient getting a severe infection from the virus. Just like smoking affects your chances of heart disease, cancers, and other health conditions, it appears that it's linked with COVID also," lead researcher Ashley Clift, from the varsity's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said.
"So it is a clear message for smokers that they quit their habits soon," he urged.
The COVID-19 test results, hospital admissions data and death certificates of over 4,20,000 patients were analysed for the study. Out of these people, there were around 14,000 smokers. There were 51 COVID admissions, which is equivalent to one in 270 getting admitted to the hospital. Around 36 deaths were also witnessed, accounting for one in 384 succumbing to the infection. Further, there were 59 COVID deaths, accounting for one in 1,666, the Daily Mail reported.
"The idea that tobacco smoking may protect against COVID-19 was always an improbable one," Drs Anthony Laverty and Christopher Millet of Imperial College London said.