Anti-COVID Nicotine?

Posted 23rd April 2020 by Dave Cross
First raised by Doctor Konstantinos Farsalinos when looking at the prevalence of smoking among Chinese COVID-19 patients, a growing number of people are now suggesting that nicotine could play an important role in reducing the severity of the disease. This hypothesis is to be put to the test by an internal medicine team from the Pitié Salpétrière hospital, and Jean-Pierre Changeux, a world-renowned neurobiologist and member of the Academy of Sciences.

Recently, POTV reported how researchers at the Hôpitaux de Paris and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie conducted a cross-sectional study with COVID-19 out- and inpatients. They produced findings strongly suggesting that current smokers have a very much lower probability of developing symptomatic or severe COVID-19 infection as compared to the general population.

Jean-Pierre Changeux and the internal medicine team at the Pitié Salpétrière hospital are going to see if the proposition that nicotine might reduce COVID-19 severity has legs.

They have already looked at 350 hospitalised patients and 130 outpatients. All patients tested positive for the virus. Then they looked to see if the patients smoked more or less than the general population of the same sex or the same age, by comparing with general population data dating from 2018. They found very few smokers.

Zahir Amoura, a Professor of Internal Medicine, said: “We found only 5% of smokers in these patients, which is very low. Basically, we have 80% less smokers in COVID patients than in the general population of same sex and same age.”

The rate of smoking in the general population in France is 24%.

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Jean-Pierre Changeux hypothesised that nicotine could occupy receptors, preventing the virus from fixing itself. He reasoned it might prohibit the virus’ propagation and would put a brake on the development of the disease.

They plan on conducting a study to see if the use of nicotine patches is useful in reducing symptoms and it has been reported that the Minister of Health Olivier Véran and the Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon have shown interest in the study.

Once the study has been given the go-ahead, nicotine patches will be administered to three groups of patients at different dosage levels. The groups will consist of caregivers, to hospital patients, and to patients experiencing critical symptoms.

Dr Farsalinos’ paper that sparked the initial interest is still in pre-print stage. POTV plans on covering it when it has been peer-reviewed and published.


  • “Low incidence of daily active tobacco smoking in patients with symptomatic COVID-19” by Miyara, Tubach, POURCHER, Morelot-Panzini, Pernet, Haroche, Lebbah, Morawiec, Gorochov, Caumes, Hausfater, COMBES, Similowski, and Amoura – [link]
  • “La nicotine, une arme contre le Covid?”, France Inter – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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