The correlation between smoking and Coronavirus

Chloe Auerbach, Reporter

Originating in Wuhan, China, the Coronavirus has traveled across the globe, affecting the lives of most. There have been over four million cases of Coronavirus around the world as of May 19, and over 320,000 people have died from the virus.  With these numbers in mind, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions in order to help stop the virus from spreading and prevent more deaths from occurring. 

While anyone has the potential to catch it, the virus proves more dangerous for infants, elderly and people who smoke. Although Coronavirus has killed young, healthy people, it primarily puts older people at risk, especially if other health concerns are in the picture. Reporting from LiveScience, Nicoletta Lanese writes about the concerns for heavy smokers in relation to the virus that is currently surrounding the world.

“Smokers may be prone to severe COVID-19 infections, in part, because their lungs contain an abundance of entry points that the virus can exploit,” Lanese said. 

According to the article, COVID-19 infections begin at the ACE2 receptor, which is a protein on the surface of cells throughout the body, including the upper and lower respiratory tracks. 

Now, preliminary research suggests that lungs exposed to cigarette smoke accumulate abnormally large numbers of ACE2 receptors, which may leave the organ vulnerable to damage inflicted by the coronavirus,” Lanese said.  

Coronavirus symptoms include a cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, headache and loss of smell or taste. The virus also can result in death, and the chances of this are magnified for people who smoke. 

“Mounting evidence suggests that, compared with nonsmokers, people who smoke cigarettes face a higher risk of developing severe complications and dying from COVID-19 infections,” Lanese said. 

The article refers to a study done in China, where over 1,000 patients were tested, both smokers, and nonsmokers. The study showed that 12.3% of smokers were admitted to an ICU (Intensive Care Unit), put on a ventilator or died. This was the case for only 4.7% of nonsmokers, which exemplify that smokers are at higher risk if the virus enters their system. Studies within the article show that quitting smoking is likely to decrease the risks.

“We show that former smokers have lower levels of ACE2 than current smokers…It’s conceivable that quitting smoking could be beneficial to decrease COVID-19 susceptibility, for multiple reasons,” Lanese said.