Smoking and ChinCOVID Revisted

Last year, researchers around the world noted a seemingly odd fact: smokers tend be under-represented in ChinCOVID cases. That is, if 20% of the overall population smokes, you’d expect that — all other things being equal — that 20% of COVID cases would be smokers. But they’re seeing much lower percentages of smokers among cases.

There’s even a theory behind this: (very simplified version) SARS-CoV-2 binds to ACE2 receptors. Nicotine also binds to ACE2 receptors. If the nicotine gets there first, the virus can’t get in. Nicotine seems to confer some resistance to the virus. (Warning: Because of what nicotine does to the receptor, if you do catch COVID, despite resistancenot immunity — your case is more likely to go bad.)

A lot of Georgians smoke. Enough that the Georgia Department Public Health specifically tracks it as a co-morbidity for COVID-19. Estimates of how many vary greatly. Some estimates I’ve found are:

Beats me. In one group of people with whom I was recently working 42.9% smoked. But smoking varies by age and income, and that group’s demographic tend toward the high end.But a lot of Georgians smoke. As I said above, all else being equal, you might expect smokers to be represented among COVID-19 proportionally.

You’d be wrong.

Smokers are under-represented among case by double digits. Depending on which smoker estimate you buy, high double digits. I started tracking this in December 2020, when I first heard about the COVOD-nicotine link. At that time, only 6.85% of the cases were smokers.

As of August 20, 2021, it’s down to 6.73% (all ages)

Light ’em up if you’ve got ’em. It’s more effective than masking.

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