Several previous studies which were conducted during the initial months of the Covid pandemic outbreak had suggested that there is a lower prevalence of active smokers among people admitted to hospitals with coronavirus infection when compared to the general population of non-smokers. However, some other studies suggested that smokers could be at higher risk of dying due to Covid. As the effect of smoking on Covid patients remained inconsistent, a team of researchers combined observational and Mendelian randomization analyses to better understand the relationship.
Smoking and Covid infection
A large UK Biobank study which is currently published in the respiratory journal Thorax suggests that smoking could most likely worsen the symptoms of Covid infection. The study report also noted that smokers are at a high risk of dying due to coronavirus infection when compared to non-smokers.
It should be noted that this is the first study of its kind to pool observational and genetic data on smoking and Covid infection.
According to the study report, current smokers were 80 percent more likely to be admitted to hospital and significantly more likely to die due to coronavirus infection. During the study, researchers used the Mendelian randomization technique and found that smoking was associated with a 45 percent higher risk of infection, and a 60 percent higher risk of getting admission to a hospital due to Covid-related complications.
"Overall, the congruence of observational analyses indicating associations with recent smoking behaviors and [Mendelian randomization] analyses indicating associations with a lifelong predisposition to smoking and smoking heaviness support a causal effect of smoking on COVID-19 severity. A respiratory pandemic should be the ideal moment to focus collective minds on tobacco control," wrote the researchers in the study report.
Will drinking whiskey protect a person from getting coronavirus infection?
Earlier, several online media portals claimed that drinking whiskey could protect a person from coronavirus infection. In an interview, which was aired by German public broadcaster SWR last year at the peak of the pandemic, Dr Juergen Rissland, the head doctor at the Institute for Virology at Saarland University Hospital in Germany was asked if drinking alcoholic beverage every 15 minutes would wash down all viruses down the throat. To everyone's surprise, Dr. Rissland said "Yes, of course."
However, the German expert's claim was misinterpreted by people, and they started claiming that drinking whiskey could be one of the best ways by which they can protect themselves from Covid infection.
"I just wanted to make the point that the virus is vulnerable to high-proof alcohol, because it has an outer layer made of fat, and high-proof alcohol destroys the virus. And one would need to drink quite a lot to get any sort of protection from infection," the virologist claims.