Snussing Out COVID

Posted 4th June 2020 by Dave Cross
Swedish researchers have joined the growing body of people investigating whether nicotine can help mitigate the symptoms of COVID-19. They say that it appears smokers may be less likely to undergo the more severe symptoms of the pandemic and believe that Sweden has seen the same thing with snus users.

Last year, Mark Oates of the New Nicotine Alliance spoke about the proven benefit for snus to be used as a harm reduction tool. He was referring to it combating the blight of tobacco-related harm at the time, but it appears the same could be said for the coronavirus.

Snus is a moist powder smokeless product originating from a dry snuff in the early 18th-century. Tobacco-free variants are now available but it remains banned for sale in Europe despite the striking impact it has had on smoking rates where it is used.

The theory that nicotine might be acting in an anti-inflammatory way was first highlighted by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos when he noticed that the rate of Chinese smokers being admitted to hospital with severe COVID symptoms was far below what would otherwise be expected.

Farsalinos, Niaura, and Poulas, wrote: “On 3 April, we were the first to establish the hypothesis that nicotine may be beneficial for COVID-19 patients and should be evaluated in clinical trials due to its anti-inflammatory properties. While in many cases the disease is mild, severe COVID-19 involves a hyper-inflammatory response, commonly called cytokine storm. This is characterized by the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that can lead to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and death.”

Then, in France, similar admission rates were observed by Jean-Pierre Changeux at the Pitié Salpétrière hospital. Changeux’s team announced plans to launch a clinical trial using nicotine patches.

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The French researchers contacted Cecilia Magnusson, who works at the Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine in Sweden.

Sweden has a unique opportunity because we are alone in having such widespread use of snus,” she told a national newspaper. “One could imagine that nicotine could be used as a treatment at covid-19.”

Cecilia Magnusson has co-authored a number of snus studies including one that showed non-smoking men used snus had “a substantially lower risk of Parkinson’s disease”.

Sweden has already saved thousands of lives thanks to Swedish snus giving people a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Let’s hope Sweden can once again seize the opportunity for snus to contribute to reducing the harm associated with Covid-19.”

Sweden is in a unique position due to its use of snus and it could well lead to a number of lives being saved around the world.”

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Related:

  • EU For Snus – [link]
  • EU For Snus Twitter – [link]
  • New Nicotine Alliance – [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]
  • “La nicotine, une arme contre le Covid?”, France Inter – [link]
  • Forskarnas teori: Svenskt snus skyddar mot corona – [link]
  • Forskare: Snus kan skydda mot corona – [link]


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