- Oxford University scientists analyzed medical records of 421,000 patients
- They found that smokers were more likely to be hospitalized and die from the virus
- Some studies said that smokers may be less likely to be hospitalized by covid
A study today claims that smokers are 80 percent more likely to be hospitalized than non-smokers.
Research by Oxford University paints a clear picture on the confusing topic of smoking and coronavirus.
At the start of the pandemic, scientists were baffled by data showing that smokers were less likely to be hospitalized with the virus. Some analyzes even suggested that they faced a small risk of becoming infected in the first place.
But the new study, based on more than 420,000 patients, found that smokers were more likely to become seriously ill if infected.
However, it did not look at whether smokers were less likely to test positive in the first place.
Experts claimed the ‘respiratory pandemic’ was probably an ideal moment to focus on quitting smoking.
About 6.9 million Britons smoke, but more than half have already said they want to quit. There are 34.1 million smokers in the US.
Research shows that covid-infected smokers are more likely to be hospitalized or die than those who have never smoked. This comes after other papers at the start of the pandemic suggested the opposite was the case (stock image)
The results of the study showed that out of around 14,000 smokers, there were 51 Covid admissions. This was the equivalent of one in 270 hospitalizations.
36 people also died, which is equivalent to one in 384 who succumb to the virus.
For comparison, 440 out of 250,000 nonsmokers were hospitalized, roughly equivalent to one in 600.
Another 159 Kovid deaths occurred, the researchers said, which was equal to one in 1,666.
Does smoking actually reduce your chances of getting hospitalized for Covid?
Early in the pandemic study suggested that smokers who caught COVID were less likely to be hospitalized than those who had never smoked a cigarette.
Papers adding evidence to this theory included one from University College London, published in April last year, which found that the proportion of covid admissions among smokers was ‘less than expected’.
The scientists were astonished by the findings, terming them ‘bizarre’.
But as the pandemic progressed other studies began to undermine the claims.
The first conclusive evidence that smokers actually had twice the risk of developing serious disease than non-smokers came from a study from King’s College London in January.
It also found that smokers were 14 percent more likely to have three main symptoms of the virus: fever, persistent cough and loss of taste and smell.
and found that they were 50 percent more likely to have a myriad of other symptoms, including cough, fever, shortness of breath and diarrhea.
Scientists at Oxford University are looking at the records of 421,000 UK patients – including 13,000 smokers – in the latest study to find smokers at greater risk from the virus.
Further analysis, published in the journal Breast, showed a gradual effect in risk, providing further evidence that smoking does indeed increase the risk of serious disease.
Light smokers — those who had up to nine cigarettes a day — were twice as likely to die from the virus than non-smokers.
Moderate smokers – those who had 10 to 19 cigarettes a day – were five times more likely to contract the virus.
And heavy smokers – classified as puffing on more than 20 cigarettes a day – were six times more likely to die.
Lead researcher Dr Ashley Clift said: ‘Our results strongly suggest that smoking is related to your risk of getting severe COVID.
‘Just as smoking affects your heart disease, various cancers, and all the other conditions that we know are linked to smoking, it appears to be the same for COVID.
‘So now might be just as good a time to quit cigarettes and quit smoking.’
He added: ‘A respiratory pandemic should be the ideal moment to focus the collective mind on tobacco control.’
Studies conducted at the start of the pandemic showed that hospitals with COVID had fewer smokers.
Rigorous scientific reviews, which explored the link in greater detail, soon began to debunk the initial claims.
The first paper to challenge the avoidance theory was published in January by King’s College London and health data science company ZOE.
They found that smoking doubled the risk of severe COVID and hospitalization, and was 14 percent more likely to suffer from the three main symptoms than those who had never smoked a cigarette.
Smokers were 50 percent more likely to develop one of ten other symptoms, including cough, fever and loss of appetite.
Early in the pandemic, when little was known about SARS-CoV-2, researchers instinctively warned that smokers would be at greater risk.
But studies emerged that suggested the opposite may be the case, which shook experts and called them ‘bizarre’.
However, the World Health Organization announced in June last year that smoking can make people more vulnerable to Covid.