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Plans to study nicotine patches as potential COVID-19 treatment

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Doctors in Wales are planning to potentially trial nicotine patches to combat coronavirus following reports that smokers may be at a lower risk of catching COVID-19. 

The Royal Glamorgan hospital in Wales is already using the improvised treatment by handing out nicotine patches to coronavirus patients who are already smokers.

They reported the potential for this treatment and need for further study back in January as they saw the disease develop in China. 

Johnathon Davies, consultant trauma surgeon at Royal Glamorgan hospital 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.” 

The team is not suggesting that patients should take up smoking but rather that nicotine could be used as a supplement.

He adds that,

“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”

A short paper published in the British Medical Journal states that, in heavy smokers, the lung injuries in those infected with COVID-19 were being exacerbated by nicotine withdrawal.

French hospitals are also considering running trials using nicotine patches but are awaiting approval from the country’s health authorities.

A team at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital questioned 480 patients who tested positive of which 350 were hospitalised.

They found that of those admitted to hospital, only 4.4 percent were regular smokers. Among those released home, 5.3 percent were smokers.

A record number of British smokers have already attempted to quit as a result of reports that smokers could face more serious consequences if they caught COVID-19.

A survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Yougov report that more than 300,000 UK smokers may have quit due to fears over COVID-19.

However, Yougov’s Covid-19 tracker also estimates that 2.2 million people are smoking more as a result of stress and boredom during lockdown.

Source: The Guardian

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