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Welsh Push For COVID-Nic Study

Welsh researchers move to fund a study looking at nicotine and its impact on the COVID-19 virus, following similar work at the Pitié Salpétrière hospital in France

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Cardiff University’s Professor Judith Hall is seeking funding for a study looking at nicotine and its potential use with the COVID-19 virus pandemic. It follows Welsh doctors commenting that they had seen benefits with patients using nicotine patches, mirroring the experience of clinicians at the Pitié Salpétrière hospital in France.

Professor Hall said she is approaching funding sources for obtain support for a trial looking at using nicotine to manage the symptoms of Covid-19. She said: “Getting trials under way is of course time-consuming and complicated business, but we must try and advance new ideas as quickly as possible in this crisis.”

The potential for nicotine as a treatment was first raised by Doctor Konstantinos Farsalinos after he looked at the prevalence of smoking among Chinese C19 patients. This was followed by Jean-Pierre Changeux and an internal medicine team from the Pitié Salpétrière hospital releasing a paper stating they had observed nicotine patches reducing the severity of the disease and announced they would be researching the phenomenon.

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.”

Consultant trauma surgeon Jonathan Davies noted similar events occurring at the Royal Glamorgan hospital. His team had been giving out NRT patches to patients with coronavirus who were smokers.

He said : “We saw the pandemic coming from China and then the horrific stories from Italy, so we were doing our own research and looking at as many papers as we could. Of course, everyone should stop smoking. If you are a smoker then you are at risk of all the secondary complications if the virus does take hold.”

Together with Dr Robert Davies and Dr Nerys Conway, he wrote to the British Medical Journal: “In this new disease smokers seem to have particularly poor outcomes. We postulate that at least in chronic smokers, the disruption of the normal Renin Angiotensin System is exacerbated by nicotine withdrawal leading to exacerbation of acute lung injury. We suggest that the simple use of Nicotine patches should be urgently considered and discussed.”

France moved to block the free sale of nicotine products following the announcement of the Pitié Salpétrière study to prevent panic buying.


  • “Response to the emerging novel coronavirus outbreak”, Davies, Conway, and Davies – [link]
  • “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]
  • “Targeting the “Cytokine Storm” for Therapeutic Benefit” by D'Elia, Harrison, Oyston, Lukaszewski, and Clark – [link]
  • “A contribution to the hypothesis of nicotinic challenge as therapeutic option for COVID-19 patients” by Manni, Tieri, and Soligo – [link]
  • “COVID-19, a disease of the nicotinic cholinergic system? Nicotine may be protective” by Farsalinos, Niaura, and Poulas – [link]
  • “Smoking Increases COVID-19 Risk... Right?” by Jason Kidde – [link]
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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